The National Space Society Mourns the Passing of Alexei Leonov, the First Spacewalker

Alexei Leonov first spacewalk

Former Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, A Space Age pioneer and the first human to perform an extravehicular activity, or spacewalk, died today, October 11, at the age of 85.

As part of the early cadre of Soviet cosmonauts, Leonov exited his Voskhod 2 spacecraft, co-piloted by Pavel Belyayev, on March 18, 1965. Using a primitive inflatable airlock, the first of its kind, he stayed outside the orbiting craft for just over 12 minutes. When it was time to reenter the Voskhod capsule, he realized that his pressure suit had become over-inflated and had to bleed air from a small valve to return, an extremely dangerous procedure.

Leonov flew again in 1975 during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, commanding a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft that docked with the last American Apollo capsule, which was under the command of astronaut Donald “Deke” Slayton. The two remained lifelong friends after the mission, and Apollo-Soyuz set the stage for later cooperation between the two Cold War superpowers in the subsequent Shuttle-Mir program and the International Space Station. That cooperation in space has continued, despite challenges in international politics, to this day aboard the ISS.

Besides his pioneering role in the early space program of the Soviet Union, Leonov was an accomplished artist and was considered an elder statesman in the international space community, providing inspiration for future astronauts of many nations.

“Alexei Leonov was one of the greats in spaceflight,” said Bruce Pittman, Senior Operating Officer of NSS. “His early exploits in space set the stage for later accomplishments by both the Soviet Union and the United States. He will be missed by those who knew him, and NSS mourns his passing, extending condolences to the Russian spaceflight community.”


Picture of National Space Society

National Space Society

2 thoughts on “The National Space Society Mourns the Passing of Alexei Leonov, the First Spacewalker”

  1. Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was an inspiration to space enthusiasts throughout the world since his historic EVA which occurred in 1965 during a Russian Voskhod 2 mission. He also helped establish cooperation in space between the United States and the Soviet Union while commanding the Soyuz spacecraft during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. Even after retiring from the Russian space program, he remained very active as an accomplished artist. He was a man of many talents which shows that students and professionals of the arts can also find a role to play in the expansion of the human species into the solar system and beyond.

  2. Russian Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov and US astronaut Ed White both completed their mission spacewalks in 1965 and as a result, set the stage for future spaceflight for both countries. Spaceflight enthusiasts can look at the various missions conducted aboard the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle program along with the Russian Mir and Expedition missions. It is these missions where the spacewalk was successfully conducted and many thanks go out to these 2 gentlemen that allowed for these EVA’s.


Leave a Comment

future 1

Don't Miss a Beat!

Be the first to know when new articles are posted!

Follow Us On Social Media


Give The Gift Of Space: Membership For Friends and Family

Book Review


ISDC 2025:
Together Beyond!

In Orlando at the Rosen Centre Hotel.
June 19 - 22, 2025


Image of Kalpana One space settlement courtesy Bryan Versteeg, $32,000 in Cash Awards Given for Best Space-Related Business Plans — Deadline March 1, 2024

Category: Nonfiction Reviewed by: John J. Vester Title: Nuclear Rockets: To the Moon and Mars Author: Manfred “Dutch” von Ehrenfried Format: Paperback/Kindle Pages: 270 Publisher:

Partially Successful Flight Reached Space and Demonstrated New “Hot Staging” System The National Space Society congratulates SpaceX on the second test of its Starship/Super Heavy

Ad Astra, the NSS quarterly print, digital, and audio magazine, has won a 2023 MARCOM Gold Award. The awards are given yearly for “Excellence in

By Jennifer Muntz, NSS Member Coordinator On October 10th, an inspiring breakfast event took flight at the Center for Space Education at the Kennedy Space

By Grant Henriksen NSS Policy Committee Benefit sharing is a concept that refers to the distribution of benefits derived from the exploration and use of

People residing and working in space, space settlements, or on long-duration space flights will need to produce infrastructures and food to maintain healthy lifestyles. The

Image: Artist’s concept of the Blue Moon lander. Credit: Blue Origin. Second Human Landing System Contract Encourages Competition and Innovation The National Space Society congratulates