Today In History: Alexei Leonov, first man to walk in space

71914015-c687-4f7e-82bc-249238066a99-2060x1236Russian President Vladimir Putin with Alexei Leonov

18th March, 1965 : A Soviet cosmonaut known as Lt. Col. Alexei Leonov exited the spacecraft Voskshod II for a short spin. He completed a somersault, and then proceeded to take pictures of space. This took place just days before the U.S. planned to launch its first two-man spaceship and becomes the first man to walk in space.

In a tribute to Leonov, The Guardian quoted him as saying: ‘I was surrounded by stars, floating without control.’ https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/may/09/alexei-leonov-first-man-to-walk-in-space-soviet-cosmonaut

“Fifty years ago, Alexei Leonov opened the airlock of his tiny space capsule, which was orbiting the Earth, and stepped into the void. For 12 minutes the Soviet cosmonaut floated above our planet, tethered to his ship by a 16ft cable. In doing so, Leonov became the first person to walk in space.

It was an event of extraordinary importance – for spacewalks have since become a mainstay of most major manned endeavours in Earth orbit. More than 200 astronauts – floating free in space on extra-vehicular activity, or EVAs – have since carried out tasks ranging from the repair of the Hubble space telescope to the construction of the international space station. As Leonov told the Observer: “It is impossible to imagine the development of any serious space project or experiment without EVAs today.”

Spacewalks can be dangerous, however, and Leonov’s own mission very nearly ended in disaster after it was afflicted by a series of mishaps that will form the core of a new film, First Time, scheduled for release in Russia next year. It will tell a story that is every bit as dramatic as Apollo 13, the US lunar mission – filmed with Tom Hanks – that also came close to catastrophe.


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