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Cosmonaut Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov became the first man to walk in space on March 18, 1965, when he spent twelve minutes outside the Voskhod 2 capsule.  Leonov, who was granted the award Hero of the Soviet Union for his exploits, died October 11, 2019 in Moscow.  He commanded the Soyuz capsule for the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975.

Leonov was born May 30, 1934 in Listvyanka, West Siberian Krai, Russian SFSR (now Kemerovo Oblast, Russia). He graduated from the Chuguev military pilots academy in the Ukraine in 1957.  He eventually obtained the rank of major general in the Soviet air force.  In 1960, he was one of twenty Soviet Air Force pilots selected for the first cosmonaut training.

A writer and artist, Leonov was a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) hero as well as twice being granted the honor Hero of the Soviet Union.  

“Over the Black Sea,” Leonov’s oil painting self-portrait of his space walk. {image via The Guardian}

In 2015, the Science Museum in London featured an exhibit on Soviet cosmonauts, featuring some of Leonov’s artwork, both that done after he returned to Earth and the first artwork created in space, his watercolor of a sunrise drawn aboard Voskhod 2.

First artwork created in space and the pencils used to create it {image via the Museum of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center}

“The pencils were adapted to deal with weightlessness – though not in a particularly hi-tech way. A rubber wristband was attached to the packet and individual threads to each of the pencils.” explained The Guardian.

As deputy director of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, he oversaw crew training and edited the cosmonaut newsletter Neptune. He also co-wrote Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race, with American astronaut David Scott, the seventh man to walk on the Moon, and British journalist Christine Toomey. He co-wrote the script for the science fiction movie The Orion Loop with Valentin Selivanov.

He is survived by his wife Svetlana Pavlovna Leonova, their younger daughter Oksana Leonova, and grandchildren Daniil and Karina. His elder daughter, Viktoria Leonova, 1961-1996, predeceased him.

Dosvedanya, General Leonov, you will be remembered as an international STEAM hero. Thank you for your service to the world.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.

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