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Alexei Leonov

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Alexei Leonov

For Russian footballer, see Aleksei Nikolayevich Leonov.
Alexey Leonov
Алексей Леонов
space walk
Nationality Soviet, Russian
Status Retired
Born (1934-05-30) 30 May 1934 (age 80)
Listvyanka, Kemerovo Oblast, USSR
Other occupation Fighter pilot, Cosmonaut
Rank Major General, Soviet Air Force
Time in space 7d 00h 32 m
Selection Air Force Group 1
Total EVAs 1
Total EVA time 12 minutes, 9 seconds
Missions Voskhod 2, Soyuz 19/ASTP
Mission insignia

Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov (Russian: Алексе́й Архи́пович Лео́нов, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksej ɐˈrxʲipəvʲɪtɕ lʲɪˈonəf]; born 30 May 1934 in Listvyanka, Kemerovo Oblast, Soviet Union) is a retired Soviet/Russian cosmonaut and Air Force Major General who, on 18 March 1965, became the first human to conduct an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), also known as a space walk.


Leonov was one of the 20 Soviet Air Force pilots selected to be part of the first cosmonaut group in 1960. Like all the Soviet cosmonauts Leonov was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. His walk in space 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 18 March 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 re-enter 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 eighteen months undergoing intensive weightlessness training for the mission.

As of November 2011, Leonov is the last survivor of the five cosmonauts in the Voskhod programme.

In 1968, Leonov was selected to be commander of a circumlunar Soyuz flight. Since all unmanned test flights of this project failed, and the Apollo 8 mission had already given that step in the Space Race to the United States, the flight was cancelled. He was also selected to be the first Soviet person to land on the Moon, aboard the LOK/N1 spacecraft. This project was also cancelled. (The design required a risky spacewalk between lunar vehicles, something that contributed to his selection.) Leonov was to have been commander of the 1971 Soyuz 11 mission to Salyut 1, the first manned space station, but his crew was replaced with the backup after the cosmonaut Valery Kubasov was suspected to have contracted 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 half of the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission – Soyuz 19 – the first joint space mission between the Soviet Union and the United States.

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 took coloured pencils and paper into space, where he sketched the Earth and drew portraits of the Apollo astronauts who flew with him during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.[1] Arthur C. Clarke wrote in his notes 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 an 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 adviser to the first deputy of the Board.[3]

In 2004, Leonov 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. Titled Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race, it 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 career in space exploration.

Honours and awards

  • Twice Hero of the Soviet Union (23 March 1965; 22 July 1975)
  • Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR (1966)
  • Order for Merit to the Fatherland, 4th class (2 March 2000) - for his contribution to the state in the development of manned space flight
  • Order of Friendship (12 April 2011) - for outstanding contribution to the development of the national manned space flight and many years of fruitful social activities
  • Two Orders of Lenin
  • Order of the Red Star
  • Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Forces of the USSR, 3rd class
  • Jubilee Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
  • Jubilee Medal "40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Jubilee Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Jubilee Medal "60 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Jubilee Medal "70 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Medal "Veteran of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Medals "For Impeccable Service", 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes
  • USSR State Prize (1981) (with AV Filipchenko)
  • Lenin Komsomol Prize (1979) - for the book-album "Man and the Universe" (with AK Sokolov)
  • Honoured Master of Sport of the USSR (1965)

Foreign awards:

  • Hero of Socialist Labour (People's Republic of Bulgaria, 1965)
  • Hero of Vietnam
  • Hero of Labour (Democratic Republic of Vietnam, 1966)
  • Order of Karl Marx (German Democratic Republic, 1966)
  • Order of Georgi Dimitrov (People's Republic of Bulgaria)
  • Order of the Banner of the Hungarian People's Republic
  • Order of Merit, 3rd class (Ukraine, 12 April 2011) - for his significant personal contribution to the development of space industry, advances in the creation and implementation of space systems and technologies, professional excellence
  • Medal A. Becker.
  • Order "For Merit", 1st class (Syria, 1966)

Public organizations:

  • "Gold Medal partisan" (Italy, 1967)
  • Ludwig Nobel Prize (2007)
  • Order of Saint Constantine the Great (Union of the Golden Knights of the Order of St. Constantine the Great)
  • Order "Golden Star" (Foundation Heroes of the Soviet Union and Heroes of the Russian Federation together with the organizing committee of the International Forum "The potential of the nation").
  • Order the "Pride of Russia" (Foundation for the "Pride of the Fatherland", 2007).
  • National Award "To the glory of the Fatherland" in the "Glory to Russia" (International Academy of Social Sciences and International Academy of patronage, 2008).
  • Order "the glory of the Fatherland", 2nd class (2008)

Other awards and titles

  • Honorary Citizen of: Belgorod, Vologda, Kaliningrad, Kaluga, Kemerovo, Nalchik, Perm; Arkalyk (Kazakhstan), Kremenchug (Ukraine), Veliko Tarnovo, Vidin, Svishtov (Bulgaria), Usti nad Labem (Czech Republic), San Antonio (Chile)
  • Reward edged weapon — a nominal officer Dirk "Alexei Leonov"
  • Commander of the Order of St. Anne III degree from the head of the Russian Imperial House Maria Vladimirovna Romanova (2008)
  • Commander of the Order of St. Anne II degree from the head of the Russian Imperial House Maria Vladimirovna Romanova (2011)
  • Honorary Member of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts




  • 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
  • Mauritania 1966, 200f
  • Niger 1966



  • Mongolia 1969


  • Soviet Union 1972 with Andrew Sokolov, series of six stamps, dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the space age (Soviet Union stamp catalogue #4162-4167) was out.



  • (Russian) (English) [2]
Russian title: Ждите Нас, Звезды.
Text and captions in Russian and English; table of contents is in English.
Album of space art.

External links

  • A video of his spacewalk
  • The Voskhod 2 mission revisited
  • Science fiction art by Leonov and Sokolov. Extensive gallery, with annotation. (Russian)
  • "I could see Armstrong bouncing on the moon" – Alexey Leonov

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