Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov dies

Mr Leonov made history in 1965 when he left a spacecraft during the Voskhod 2 mission for a spacewalk that lasted 12 minutes and nine seconds

The world's first spacewalker, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, has died at the age of 85.

He became the first human to walk in space on March 18, 1965, leaving his capsule for 12 minutes, and later served on the Soviet crew that formed the first temporary space station with an American crew during the Soyuz-Apollo mission in 1975. He was such a legend that the late science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke named a Soviet spaceship after him in his 2010 sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Apollo-Soyuz 19 was a prelude to the global co-operation seen aboard the current space station.

Alexei Leonov was the first man to walk in Space from Voshkod 2.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko said Leonov's death was a "loss for the whole planet", while President Vladimir Putin said he admired the astronaut's courage.

The short foray, a significant advance in the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States, was no easy task, and not without its mishaps.

Leonov underwent 18 months of intensive training before his mission. Leonov struggled to re-enter the spacecraft because his space suit had ballooned beyond the diameter of the hatch.

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Leonov also was the Russian commander of the Apollo-Soyuz joint space mission in 1975, a prelude to the global cooperation seen aboard the current space station.

Despite the mishap, Leonov remained a cosmonaut of high regard and he was decorated as a "Hero of the Soviet Union". However, he lost this honour when the US' Apollo crew touched down on the Earth's satellite in 1969, before the Soviet Union.

Alexei Leonov was known as Cosmonaut No 11.

The cosmonaut turned 85 in May. They wore placards on their spacesuit backpacks, one saying "Leonov No. 1" and the other "Happy Birthday, Alexey Arkhipovich". Leonov's two space flights totaled just over seven days in orbit.

"As far as I can remember, I was concentrating fully, cold-blooded and relatively unexcited", Leonov wrote.

Roscosmos said Mr Leonov's funeral will take place on Tuesday at a military cemetery outside Moscow.

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