Buzz Aldrin pays tribute to pioneering Soviet spaceman Alexei Leonov

Pablo Tucker
October 12, 2019

Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first person to walk in space, died today at the age of 86, as reported by the capital's television channel.

The cosmonaut made history in 1965, when he stepped outside his spacecraft for just over 12 minutes and floated around, attached by a tether.

Despite the mishap, Leonov remained a cosmonaut of high regard and he was decorated as a "Hero of the Soviet Union".

The first American to walk in space, Ed White, wouldn't do so until June that same year.

They wore placards on their spacesuit backpacks, one saying "Leonov No. 1" and the other "Happy Birthday, Alexey Arkhipovich".

Leonov was born in 1934 into a large peasant family in western Siberia. Leonov did not give up sketching even when he flew into space, and took coloured pencils with him on the Apollo-Soyuz flight in 1975 to draw.

He was then chosen to be the first cosmonaut to land on the moon, but the catastrophic explosion of the Soviet N-1 moon rocket in 1969 abruptly ended Russia's moon aspirations.

Leonov recounted the lovely and harrowing experience of his spacewalk mission in the book Two Sides of the Moon, co-written with NASA Apollo astronaut David Scott. However, he lost this honour when the US' Apollo crew touched down on the Earth's satellite in 1969, before the Soviet Union.

Two NASA astronauts are now outside the International Space Station on the second of several planned spacewalks to replace batteries affixed to the outside of the spacecraft.

"We were going to stop by Alexei Arkhipovich (Leonov) after our return and give him our space souvenirs, but you see it wasn't meant to be", Kononenko said.

"The Cosmonaut ambassador to the world", Aldrin tweeted on Friday.

It is worth noting that TASS with reference to the astronaut's assistant reports that Leonov will be buried on October 15, at the memorial cemetery in Mytishchi.

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