A Brief History off Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov

By Willie Bodenstein

07.04.2024





Born on 30 May 1934 Russian Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov was one of the 20 Soviet Air Force pilots selected to be part of the first cosmonaut group in 1960. An Air Force Major general, writer and artist on 18 March 1965, he became the first human to conduct extravehicular activity (EVA), exiting the capsule during the Voskhod 2 mission for a spacewalk.

His walk in space was originally to have taken place on the Voskhod 1 mission, but this was cancelled. The historic event happened on the Voskhod 2 flight instead. Leonov was outside the spacecraft for 12 minutes and nine seconds on 18 March 1965, connected to the craft by a 5.35-metre (17.6 ft) tether. At the end of the spacewalk, Leonov's spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum of space to the point where he could not re-enter the airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit's pressure to bleed off and was barely able to get back inside the capsule.



Leonov was to have commanded the next mission to Salyut 1, but this was scrapped after the deaths of the Soyuz 11 crew members, and the space station was lost. The next two Salyuts were lost at launch or failed soon after, and Leonov's crew stood by. By the time Salyut 4 reached orbit, Leonov had been switched to a more prestigious project.

In 1968 Leonov was selected to be commander of a circumlunar Soyuz 7K-L1 flight. This was cancelled because of delays in achieving a reliable circumlunar flight. He was also selected to be the first Soviet person to land on the Moon, aboard the LOK/N1 spacecraft. This project was also cancelled.

Leonov passed away on 11 October 2019 at age 85 in Moscow.





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