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

Alexei Leonov in Moscow in 2010

Former Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov in Moscow Russia

Leonov was one of the Soviet Union's first group of cosmonauts, and he trained alongside Yuri Gagarin, the first man to go into space. During the Voskhod 2 mission, on March 18, 1965, he exited his capsule for 12 minutes, performing the first human spacewalk. The event was almost a disaster.

His spacesuit had inflated so much in the vacuum of space that he could not get back into the spacecraft.

On Oct. 16, Morgan and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir are scheduled to venture outside for another spacewalk to continue the battery replacements.

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

Leonov flew into space again in 1975, commanding the Soviet half of the Apollo-Soyuz mission, the first U.S.

Showing just how much of a space pioneer Leonov was, NASA broke into its live televised coverage of a spacewalk by two Americans outside the International Space Station to report Leonov's death.

Born in Siberia, Leonov was a fighter pilot before becoming a cosmonaut. The détente-inspired mission saw the last Apollo spacecraft rendezvous in space with a Soviet Soyuz, as a demonstration of supposedly thawing US-Soviet relations.

One of ESA's most experienced spacewalkers, Swedish ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang, said, "One of the greatest icons of space travel, not only was he a true astronaut pioneer with, among other things, the first ever spacewalk, but also he was a lifelong passionate supporter of space and for collaboration there". Leonov is two time Hero of the Soviet Union.

A major general in the Soviet Air Force, he retired from service in 1992. After a stint in bank management, he wrote books, science fiction movie screenplays, an autobiography, and became a painter.

The YouTube window below will be broadcasting the entirety of the spacewalk, and it includes commentary from NASA staff to provide some context for what you're seeing on the screen.

A crater on the far side of the Moon was named after Leonov in 1970.

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