Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov dies at age 85

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Leonov making the spacewalk, depicted on a Soviet stamp (Image: Soviet Union)
Leonov in 1974 (Image: NASA)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Yesterday, Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced the death of cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. Leonov was famous for performing the first human spacewalk as part of the Soviet Union's Voskhod 2 mission. He was 85.

Leonov, also known as "cosmonaut No. 11", was part of the Soviet Union's original team of cosmonauts. On March 18, 1965, he performed the first manned extravehicular activity (EVA), or "spacewalk", remaining alone outside the spacecraft for just over twelve minutes. He received the "Hero of the Soviet Union", the Soviet Union's highest honor, for his work. Ten years later, he led the Soviet part of the Apollo–Soyuz mission symbolizing that the Space Race was over.

NASA interrupted its live coverage of an International Space Station spacewalk to mourn Leonov's passing. It also credited Leonov with making the spacewalk possible, noting on Twitter "[h]is venture into the vacuum of space began the history of extravehicular activity".

Sputnik News reported Leonov, who died in Moscow, will be buried at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery on Tuesday. He was the last surviving member of the Voskhod programme crew.