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Alexei Leonov, 1st human to walk in space, dies in Moscow

11 October 2019

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

Leonov died at a Moscow hospital on Friday after a long illness.

On March 18, 1965, Leonov became the first man to walk in space when he crawled out of an inflatable airlock strapped to the side of his Voskhod 2 capsule for a 12-minute walk.

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Leonov was born in 1934 in the former Soviet Union. Earlier this year, International Space Station cosmonauts recorded birthday greetings for Leonov in space.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday sent his condolences to Leonov's family, calling him a "true pioneer, a strong and heroic person". Leonov did not give up sketching even when he flew into space, and took colored pencils with him on the Apollo-Soyuz flight in 1975 to draw. In the vacuum of space, his suit had ballooned to the point that it would not fit through the hatch.

Though Leonov wasn't the first man on the moon (a goal he wasn't shy about), he earned his own "first" in the space race between the United States and Soviet Union.

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

British astronaut Tim Peake said Mr Leonov was "a hero to so many, pioneer of spacewalking and always full of wisdom and humour".

Two NASA astronauts are now outside the International Space Station on the second of several planned spacewalks to replace batteries affixed to the outside of the spacecraft. Two NASA astronauts are conducting one Friday outside the ISS to install new batteries.

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Spacewalks are now a routine part of space work.

Alexei Leonov, 1st human to walk in space, dies in Moscow