Russia’s space agency has announced that Alexei Leonov, the first human to walk in space 54 years ago, has died in Moscow at the age of 85.
Roscosmos in a statement on its website said Leonov died on Friday, October 11th after a prolonged illness .
Leonov performed his first spacewalk on March 18, 1965, when he exited his Voskhod 2 capsule, secured by a tether.
During that flight, one of two he made into space in his career, Leonov became the first human to conduct a space walk, an episode that lasted 12 minutes and 9 seconds.
Leonov flew into space again in 1975, commanding the Soviet half of the Apollo-Soyuz mission, the first U.S.–Soviet space flight. It occurred at a time when Russia and the United States, which spent part of the Cold War locked in a space race, were pursuing a policy of detente.
It was the first joint space mission between the Soviet Union and the United States, carried out at the height of the Cold War.
Leonov trained as a military pilot before becoming a cosmonaut. He received a ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ medal – one of the Russian state’s most prestigious awards – twice and has a small crater on the Moon named after him.
The cosmonaut turned 85 in May. Several days before that, two Russian crewmembers on the International Space Station ventured into open space on a planned spacewalk with stickers attached on their spacesuits paying tribute to him, and congratulated him from space.
Roscosmos said Leonov would be buried Tuesday at a military memorial cemetery outside Moscow.