Alexei Leonov, first human to walk in space, dies aged 85

"One of the first cosmonauts of the world space era, Alexei Leonov was committed to his Motherland and his cause, his name is lettered in gold in the world space exploration history", Roscosmos said.

He became the first human to walk in space on March 18, 1965, leaving his capsule for 12 minutes, and later served on the Soviet crew that formed the first temporary space station with an American crew during the Soyuz-Apollo mission in 1975.

NASA broke into its live televised coverage of a spacewalk by two Americans outside the International Space Station to report Leonov's death.

Leonov has died in Moscow this Friday, according to Russia's Cosmonaut Training Center officials. He had to open a valve to vent oxygen from his suit to be able to fit through the hatch.

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.


Leonov was born on May 30, 1934, and raised in a large peasant family in western Siberia. Several days before that, two Russian crewmembers 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.

"His venture into the vacuum of space began the history of extra-vehicular activity that makes today's Space Station maintenance possible", Nasa said on Twitter. The new batteries are much, much more efficient than the old models, meaning that for every two old batteries the team removes, only one new one as to be installed.

Spacewalks are now a routine part of space work.

The memorial service and the funeral are expected to take place on 15 October, at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery.

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