Alexei Leonov, the first spacewalker, passes away

Alexei Leonov was known as Cosmonaut No 11

Alexei Leonov was known as Cosmonaut No 11

Alexei Leonov, the first man to enter outer space, died in Russian Federation at the age go 85, TASS reported.

NASA on Friday offered sympathy to Leonov's family, saying it was saddened by his death.

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

Alexei Leonov was the first man to walk in Space from Voshkod 2.

The flight and spacewalk were successful on the whole, but his return to Earth almost ended in tragedy when Mr Leonov and another cosmonaut, Mr Pavel Belyayev, crash-landed in the Siberian woods.

On his second trip to space 10 years later, Mr Leonov commanded the Soviet half of the Apollo-Soyuz 19 mission.

"A tribute to Leonov as today is a spacewalk", Mission Control in Houston reported.

Leonov's pioneering spacewalk marked a crucial step for the development of moon landing programs and the International Space Station.

"This is a loss for the whole planet", said Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko.

That mission was the first one between the Soviet Union and the United States and was carried out at the height of the Cold War.

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

Leonov celebrated his 85th birthday on May 30 and cosmonauts Kononenko and Alexei Ovchinin dedicated a May spacewalk to him, taking a picture of him into space and wearing spacesuits with birthday greetings written on the back. For the first time, a Soviet launch was broadcast live worldwide and two days later they rendezvoused with the last Apollo spacecraft to fly.

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

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