Alexei Leonov, first person to walk in space, dies at 85

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.

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.

"One of the first cosmonauts of the world space era, Alexei Leonov was committed to his Motherland and his cause, his name is lettered in gold in the world space exploration history", Roscosmos said.

His death was announced Friday, Oct. 11, by Roscosmos, Russia's space agency.

Despite the mishap, Leonov remained a cosmonaut of high regard and he was decorated as a "Hero of the Soviet Union".

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

Leonov attended several anniversary commemorations of the Apollo 11 moon landing as a guest of NASA. The walk lasted about 20 minutes, during which he spent 10 minutes free floating while tethered to the spacecraft.

Leonov's assistant told AFP that the former cosmonaut died in Moscow after a long illness.

After 18 months of intensive training Leonov was ready to become the first man to float in space.

The documentary film "The Man Walking In Space" followed Leonov on his famous orbit.

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Leonov and another cosmonaut, pilot Pavel Belyayev, (codenames Almaz-1 and Almaz-2) were rocketed nearly 500 kilometres (310 miles) into orbit.

Leonov was also known as an author and painter, with some of his works used on Soviet postage stamps.

Leonov was an accomplished artist and writer and his contemporaries described him as warm and likable.

"It's a huge tragedy for us all", said the wife of fellow cosmonaut Boris Volynov, Tamara Volynova.

A memorial service and burial will take place in Russia's Federal Military Memorial Cemetery to the northeast of Moscow established to honour people who performed outstanding service to the nation in their lifetime, on 15 October.

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