Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov

First Man to Walk in Space

First Man to Walk in Space

Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov is a former Soviet cosmonaut who in 1965 became the first person to step out of a spacecraft and walk in space. In 1975, he commanded the Soyuz spacecraft that took part in the first rendezvous between a Soviet and United States spacecraft.

In 1960, Alexei Leonov first spaceflight was the Voskhod 2 mission on March 18, 1965. Pavel Belyayev commanded the 26-hour flight and Leonov was the Pilot. Ninety minutes after the launch, Leonov became the first person to walk in space, floating freely outside the Voskhod capsule for more than ten minutes high above the Earth.

When Leonov attempted to return to the capsule he could not because the pressure difference between the air in his space suit, and the vacuum of space, expanded the suit, making it so rigid he could not work his fingers. Eventually he bled some of the air out of the suit and was able to close the lock's outer hatch. By the time Leonov ended his spacewalk it had lasted over twenty minutes.

During re-entry the onboard computer for the Voskhod malfunctioned and the capsule landed over 600 miles off course in a remote section of the Ural Mountains. After two days and a cold night in the wilderness the cosmonauts were finally rescued.

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