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Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov
Alexei Leonov UR.jpg
The first human to conduct a space walk.
Status Retired
Born May 30, 1934 (1934-05-30) (age 75)
Listvyanka, Kemerovo Oblast, Soviet Union
Other occupation Fighter pilot, Cosmonaut
Rank General, Soviet Air Force
Time in space 7d 00h 32 m
Selection Air Force Group 1
Missions Voskhod 2, Soyuz 19
Mission insignia
Voskhod2patch.png Astp-S75-20361.jpg

Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov (Russian: Алексе́й Архи́пович Лео́нов; born May 30, 1934, in Listvyanka, Kemerovo Oblast, Soviet Union) is a retired Soviet/Russian cosmonaut and Air Force General who, on March 18, 1965, became the first human to conduct a space walk.



Leonov's Near the Moon (1967)

Leonov was one of the twenty air force pilots selected to be part of the first cosmonaut group in 1960. His spacewalk was originally to have taken place on the Vostok 11 mission, but this was cancelled, and the historic event happened on the Voskhod 2 flight instead. He was outside the spacecraft for 12 minutes and nine seconds on March 18, 1965, connected to the craft by a 5.35 meter tether. At the end of the spacewalk, Leonov's spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum of space to the point where he could not reenter the airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit's pressure to bleed off, and was barely able to get back inside the capsule. Leonov had spent some eighteen months undergoing intense weightlessness training for the mission.

In 1968, Leonov was selected to be commander of a circumlunar Soyuz flight. However as all unmanned test flights of this project failed, and the Apollo 8 mission already gave that point in the Space Race to the USA, the flight was canceled. He was also selected to be the first Soviet person to land on the Moon, aboard the LOK/N1 spacecraft. This project was also canceled. (Incidentally, the design required a risky spacewalk between lunar vehicles, something that contributed to his selection). Leonov was to have been commander of the ill-fated 1971 Soyuz 11 mission to Salyut 1, the first manned space station, but his crew was replaced with the backup after Cosmonaut Valery Kubasov was suspected to have tuberculosis.

Leonov was to have commanded the next mission to Salyut 1, but this was scrapped after the deaths of the Soyuz 11 crew members, and the space station was lost. The next two Salyuts (actually the military Almaz station) were lost at launch or failed soon after, and Leonov's crew stood by. By the time Salyut 4 reached orbit Leonov had been switched to a more prestigious project.

Leonov's second trip into space was similarly significant—he commanded the Soviet side of the Apollo-Soyuz mission, Soyuz 19, the first joint space mission between Soviet Union and USA.

From 1976 to 1982, Leonov was the commander of the cosmonaut team ("Chief Cosmonaut"), and deputy director of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, where he oversaw crew training. He also edited the cosmonaut newsletter "Neptune". He retired in 1991.

Leonov is an accomplished artist whose published books include albums of his artistic works and works he did in collaboration with his friend Andrei Sokolov. Leonov has taken colored pencils and paper into space, where he has sketched the Earth and drawn portraits of the Apollo astronauts who flew with him during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.[1] Arthur C. Clarke writes in his note to 2010: Odyssey Two that, after a 1968 screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Leonov pointed out to him that the alignment of the Moon, Earth, and Sun shown in the opening is essentially the same as that in Leonov's 1967 painting Near the Moon, although the painting's diagonal framing of the scene was not replicated in the film. Clarke kept the autographed sketch of this painting, which Leonov made after the screening, hanging on his office wall.[2]

In 2001, he was a vice president of Moscow-based Alfa Bank and an advisor to the first deputy of the Board.[3]

In 2004, he and former American astronaut David Scott began work on a dual biography / history of the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. The book, "Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race" was published in 2006. Neil Armstrong and Tom Hanks both wrote introductions to the book.

Leonov was also a contributor to the 2007 book "Into That Silent Sea" by Colin Burgess and Francis French, which describes his life and space career.


Monument of Alexey Leonov on Cosmonauts Alley in Moscow
  • Arthur C. Clarke's book 2010: Odyssey Two was dedicated to Leonov and Andrei Sakharov; the fictional spaceship Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov in the book was named after him.
  • Alexey Leonov was decorated twice as the Hero of the Soviet Union (March 23, 1965 and 1975). He was also awarded the Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Star, numerous medals and foreign orders. He bears the title of the Hero of Socialist Labor of Bulgaria and Hero of Vietnam.
  • Leonov wore a Russian Poljot FMWF Strela (transliteration of СТРЕЛА, which actually means "Arrow")chronograph during his historic first space walk.
  • At an ASTP press conference, Leonov stated (in English) that, while in the United States for ASTP training, he wanted to visit Hollywood, because he had aspirations of being a movie star. (He then joked, "I don't want [to be a movie star]... Tom Stafford want!")
  • Alexey Leonov along with Rusty Schweickart, Vitaly Sevastyanov and Georgi Grechko established the Association of Space Explorers in 1984. Membership is open to all individuals who have flown in space.


Alexey Leonov on Soviet Union 1965 Stamp 10 kopeks


  • Alexey Leonov on Soviet Union 1965 Stamp 10 kopeks
  • Soviet Union 1965, 6 kopeks
  • Soviet Union 1965 with Pavel Belyayev
  • Albania 1965 twice 6 and 20, with Pavel Belyayev
  • Albania 1965
  • Bulgaria 1965 with Pavel Belyayev
  • Bulgaria 1965 twice 2 (with Pavel Belyayev) and 20 st
  • Cuba 1965, twice
  • Czechoslovakia 1965 (twice):
  • DDR 1965
  • DDR 1965
  • Hungary 1965
  • Togo 1965
  • Vietnam 1965


  • Bulgaria 1966 13 st, with Pavel Belyayev
  • Ecuador 1966
  • Mali 1966, twice
  • Mauretania 1966, 200f
  • Niger 1966


  • Mongolia 1969


  1. ^ "Alexei Leonov: winner of the 2005 IAAA Lucien Rudaux Memorial Award". Retrieved 2007-07-02.  
  2. ^ Clarke, 2010: Odyssey Two, Author's Note, pp. xvii-xviii. Clarke describes the painting itself on page 76. (ISBN 0345413970)
  3. ^ "Aleksei Leonov and Alexander Gafin become members of the American Pushkin Academy of Art". 2001-02-23. Retrieved 2007-07-08.  


  • Leonov, Aleksei Arkhipovich; Sokolov, Andrei Konstantinovich (1967). Zhdite nas, zvezdy: the stars are awaiting us. Moskva: Mol. Gvardiia.  (Russian) (English) [1] [2]
Russian title: Ждите Нас, Звезды.
Text and captions in Russian and English; table of contents is in English.
Album of space art.
  • Scott, David; Alexei Leonov (2006). Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race. with Christine Toomey. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0312308663.  

External links

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