Alexei Leonov, first man to walk in space, dies in Moscow

Alexei Leonov, first man to walk in space, dies in Moscow

French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet said, "Sad to hear a legend like Leonov, first ever spacewalker, passed away".

A NASA astronaut from the east is suiting up this morning for the second of five planned spacewalks this month.

"We had this tradition that he would give cosmonauts pep talks before they board the spacecraft", Kononenko said.

Leonov spent 12 minutes tethered to the capsule during the Voskhod 2 mission in 1965.

Leonov stayed in touch with both Roscosmos and NASA space exploration efforts long after his retirement in the early '90s.

Leonov helped train other cosmonauts before retiring in 1992, a year after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey included recordings of Leonov's breathing in space.

Leonov was also known as an author and painter, with some of his works used on Soviet postage stamps. "His venture into the vacuum of space began the history of extravehicular activity that makes today's Space Station maintenance possible", NASA tweeted.

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The short foray, a significant advance in the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States, was no easy task, and not without its mishaps.

The cosmonaut turned 85 in May.

After the ASTP, Leonov was chief cosmonaut and later deputy director of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, where he supervised crew training.

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

Leonov is survived by his wife Svetlana Leonova, two daughters and two grandchildren.

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

He also helped USA astronaut Tom Stafford adopt two Russian boys.

His funeral will be held October 15 at Mytishchi Military Memorial cemetery outside Moscow.

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