First person to spacewalk Alexei Leonov passes away

First person to spacewalk Alexei Leonov passes away

Alexei Leonov, the legendary Soviet cosmonaut who became the first human to walk in space 54 years ago - and who almost didn't make it back into his space capsule - has died in Moscow at 85.

Leonov made history on March 18, 1965, when he stepped out of his Voskhod 2 spacecraft and went for a spacewalk that lasted 12 minutes. Leonov famously risked death when he did the first spacewalk back in 1965, proving that a human being could survive in the vastness of space outside the confines of a craft.

Russian space fans were bringing flowers to his monument Friday on the memorial alley in honour of Russia's cosmonauts in Moscow.

His death was announced Friday, Oct. 11, by Roscosmos, Russia's space agency.

A major general in the Soviet Air Force, he retired from service in 1992.

Though not as well known around the world as the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, Leonov was a household name in Russian Federation.

As U.S. astronauts Andrew Morgan and Christina Koch wrapped up a successful seven-hour spacewalk, the rest of the station crew paid tribute to Leonov. On the fourth spacewalk of this series, on October 21, Koch and Jessica Meir will perform the world's first all-female spacewalk.

Leonov died at a Moscow hospital on Friday after a long illness.

"As far as I can remember, I was concentrating fully, cold-blooded and relatively unexcited", Leonov wrote.

Leonov had also been selected as the first Soviet person to land on the Moon, before that mission was cancelled.

Leonov underwent 18 months of intensive training before his mission.

Putin congratulated the Soviet-era cosmonaut on the time, calling him "a worthy representative of the legendary team of Soviet cosmonauts".

Leonov was an accomplished artist and writer and his contemporaries described him as warm and likable.

"Alexei is a unique person", she informed AFP.

He also helped United States astronaut Tom Stafford adopt two Russian boys.

Roscosmos said Mr Leonov's funeral will take place on Tuesday at a military cemetery outside Moscow.

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