NASA conducts spacewalk as world's 1st spacewalker dies

Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who made the first spacewalk in 1965 right and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for

Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who made the first spacewalk in 1965 right and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for

The legendary Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the man who conducted the first-ever extravehicular activity, has passed away at the age of 85.

Russian space agency Roscosmos made the announcement on its website on Friday, without providing a cause for his death.

Leonov chalked up one of Russia's major space triumphs on March 18, 1965, when he ventured outside his Voskhod 2 spacecraft to carry out history's first spacewalk.

On the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975, Leonov met with United States astronauts in space and gave TV viewers tours of their respective crafts, the first time Soviet and United States cosmonauts collaborated in space.

Born in Siberia, the youngest of eight children, Leonov became a fighter pilot before being selected as one of the first potential cosmonauts.

He flew in space a second time in 1975, as part of the historic Apollo-Soyuz mission, the first US-Soviet space flight, which occurred as the two superpowers were pursuing a policy of detente during the Cold War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday sent his condolences to Leonov's family, calling him a "true pioneer, a strong and heroic person". "Putin always admired Leonov's courage".

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.

Messages of condolences poured in from around the globe following news of his death. "Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov, artist, leader, spacewalker and friend, I salute you".

Though not as well known around the world as the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, Leonov was a household name in Russian Federation.

Since Leonov's feat, there have been 227 spacewalkers including 14 women.

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

Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey included recordings of Leonov's breathing in space.

The cosmonaut was well known for his humour.

Leonov is survived by his wife, a daughter and two grandchildren.

Roscosmos said Leonov would be buried Tuesday at a military memorial cemetery outside Moscow.

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