Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter
Alexei Leonov was born Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov on May 30, 1934 in the Soviet Union. His birth is not of historical significance, but his contribution to space travel is. Leonov was one of the first group Soviet cosmonauts. He was the first human to conduct a spacewalk. This historic spacewalk took place on March 18, 1965 during the Voskhod 2 mission. He was outside the spacecraft for a little more than 12 minutes.
His spacewalk was originally scheduled for the canceled Vostok 11 mission. At the end of the spacewalk, his spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum of space and he could not re-enter the airlock. He was able to open a valve and bleed off some pressure. Eventually, he was able to force his way back into the space capsule. This was not to be his only spaceflight.
Leonov was selected for a Soyuz mission, a lunar mission aboard the LOK/N1, and then Soyuz 11. Next, he was standing by for two Salyut missions. Each scheduled flight was canceled for one reason or another or lost at launch. Finally, he made a second trip into space. He commanded the Soviet half of the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission(Soyuz 19), which was a venture between the Soviet Union and the United States.
He spent six years(1976 to 1982) as the commander of the team of cosmonauts and deputy director of training for the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.
Alexei Leonov is an accomplished artist whose published works include albums of his own works and works he has done in collaboration with Andrei Sokolov. He has taken colored pencils and paper into space, where he has sketched the Earth and drawn portraits of the Apollo astronauts who flew with him.
Comrade Leonov is still a celebrated figure in his homeland. He is the last survivor of the Voskhod program and a true hero for his continued dedication to manned space exploration.
We’ve also recorded an entire episode of Astronomy Cast all about Spacesuits. Listen here, Episode 121: Spacesuits.