First person to spacewalk Alexei Leonov passes away

Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who made the first spacewalk in 1965 right and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for

Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who made the first spacewalk in 1965 right and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for

Alexei Leonov, the Russian cosmonaut, who has died aged 85, performed the first spacewalk in history when he left the Voskhod 2 capsule and drifted in the vacuum; but the return almost proved fatal.

Leonov was the first person to conduct a spacewalk during a launch of the spacecraft Voskhod-2 on March 18, 1965.

Born in 1934, Leonov became the eleventh Soviet cosmonaut and achieved major milestones of space exploration.

Connected to the Voskhod by an 18-foot-long tether, Leonov spent 12 minutes floating outside before struggling to get back inside his spacecraft.

NASA announced Leonov's death Friday morning as astronauts Andrew Morgan and Christina Koch emerged from the International Space Station to being a spacewalk.

Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov passed away Friday in Moscow, per a report from the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov trains for the Apollo-Soyuz mission in April 1975.

Leonov attended several anniversary commemorations of the Apollo 11 moon landing as a guest of NASA. "Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov, artist, leader, spacewalker and friend, I salute you".

Soyuz-Apollo was the first Soviet-American joint space mission in history.

The mission was successful on the whole but the men's return to Earth almost ended in tragedy when Leonov and Belyayev crash-landed deep in the Russian woods.

Spacewalking always carries a high risk but Mr Leonov's pioneering venture was particularly nerve-wracking, according to details of the exploit that only became public decades later.

Putin congratulated the Soviet-era cosmonaut at the time, calling him "a worthy representative of the legendary team of Soviet cosmonauts".

The cosmonaut was well known for his humour.

Leonov is survived by his wife Svetlana Leonova, two daughters and two grandchildren.

"It's a huge tragedy for us all", stated the spouse of cosmonaut Boris Volynov, Tamara Volynova, who wrote a guide about cosmonauts.

He helped many cosmonauts and was a "great storyteller", space historian Alexander Glushko said.

His funeral will be held October 15 at Mytishchi Military Memorial cemetery outside Moscow.