Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who made history in 1965 by becoming the first person to ever walk in space, died on Friday in Moscow, the TASS news agency reported, citing his aide Natalya Filimonova. He was 85.
Leonov died at the Burdenko Hospital after a long illness, Filimonova said. He will be buried at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery on October 15. The Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow Oblast confirmed Leonov’s death.
Leonov made history in 1965 by exiting his capsule for 12 minutes, Russia Today reported. Leonov made two space flights that lasted a total of seven days and 33 minutes. The first one was on March 18-19, 1965, in the spacecraft Voskhod-2, where he was the co-pilot. It was during this flight that Leonov performed his first spacewalk.
During his second space voyage on July 15-21, 1975, Leonov, the commander of the crew, participated in the first-ever international docking of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz-19 spacecraft and the United States’ Apollo-18. Along with Valery Kubasov, a crew member, Leonov shook hands with crew members of the US flight, Vance Brand, Thomas Stafford and Donald Slayton, a handshake that went down in history.
Leonov was also supposed to be the first man to land on the moon. However, he lost this honour when the US’ Apollo crew touched down on the Earth’s satellite in 1969, before the Soviet Union.
Oleg Kononenko and Alexei Ovchinin, two members of the International Space Station, dedicated their spacewalk on May 29 to Leonov, who celebrated his 85th birthday the following day.
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