Loss of a Space Pioneer: Alexei Leonov Dies at 85

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Alexei Leonov, the Russian cosmonaut, who has died aged 85, performed the first spacewalk in history when he left the Voskhod 2 capsule and drifted in the vacuum; but the return almost proved fatal.

Leonov made history in 1965 by exiting his capsule for 12 minutes, Russia Today reported.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos made the announcement on its website Friday but gave no cause for his death.

Alexei Leonov, who grew to become a legend in Russian Federation, celebrated his 85th birthday in Might. Alexei Leonov, a Soviet-era cosmonaut who was the first man to conduct a spacewalk in 1965, died on October 11, 2019 in Moscow aged 85, his assistant said. Apollo-Soyuz 19 was a prelude to the global co-operation seen aboard the current space station.

NASA astronaut Ed White became the first American spacewalker three months later.

Born in Siberia, Leonov was a fighter pilot before becoming a cosmonaut.

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Leonov's mission was orchestrated by Sergei Korolev, chief architect of the Soviet space programme and the man responsible for Yuri Gagarin's monumental departure from the Earth's atmosphere on board Vostok 1 in April 1961.

The mission was successful on the whole but the men's return to Earth almost ended in tragedy when Leonov and Belyayev crash-landed deep in the Russian woods.

In July 1975, Leonov commanded the Soyuz capsule, which set a standard of global cooperation in space when it docked for two days with NASA's Apollo capsule.

Leonov was also known as an author and painter, with some of his works used on Soviet postage stamps.

Alexei Leonov was twice named a Hero of the Soviet Union. The détente-inspired mission saw the last Apollo spacecraft rendezvous in space with a Soviet Soyuz, as a demonstration of supposedly thawing US-Soviet relations. Several days before that, two Russian crew members on the International Space Station ventured into open space on a planned spacewalk with stickers attached on their spacesuits paying tribute to him, and congratulated him from space.

"It is of great sadness that I learned of Alexei Leonov's passing".

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