'The First Spacewalker': Soviet Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov Dies at 85

Mr Leonov made history in 1965 when he left a spacecraft during the Voskhod 2 mission for a spacewalk that lasted 12 minutes and nine seconds

Mr Leonov made history in 1965 when he left a spacecraft during the Voskhod 2 mission for a spacewalk that lasted 12 minutes and nine seconds

The cosmonaut made history in 1965, when he stepped outside his spacecraft for just over 12 minutes and floated around, attached by a tether. Famously, Alexei displayed nerves of steel when his spacesuit expanded in the vacuum of space so much that he was unable to squeeze back into the spacecraft. He had to open a valve to vent oxygen from his suit to be able to fit through the hatch.

Mr Leonov was a close friend of Mr Yury Gagarin, who became the first human to go to outer space in 1961.

"This is a bittersweet day for all of us on the International Space Station", said Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, who met Leonov in years past.

ESA Director General Jan Wörner paid tribute saying, "I'm sorry to hear of the passing of Alexei Leonov". The rest will be carried out on October 16, 21, and 25, based on the current schedule, but since the first spacewalk already put the team ahead of schedule, the plans for later spacewalks could change. He was also an outstanding ambassador for global cooperation.

Five days after their first spacewalk, Morgan and Koch swiftly continued swapping decade-old batteries in the station's solar power network with new and improved lithium-ion versions.

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As is often the case, NASA is live streaming the entire event from start to finish, giving us a glimpse at what it takes to walk in space and perform maintenance on one of the most complex pieces of machinery ever sent into space.

Mr Leonov was born in 1934 in a large peasant family in western Siberia. When in his 20s, he was one of the Soviet Air Force pilots selected to become part of the first cosmonaut group.

By the time Voskhod 2 left the ground on March 18 1965, tensions were running high.

Alexei was always clear that he aimed much farther, he made no secret of the fact that he wanted to be the first man on the Moon.

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