[WORLDKINGS] On this day - March 18, 2023 – The 58th Anniversary of Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov becoming the first man to walk in space (1965)


(Worldkings.org) On 18 March 1965, he became the first person to conduct a spacewalk, exiting the capsule during the Voskhod 2 mission for 12 minutes and 9 seconds.

Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov (May 30, 1934 – October 11, 2019) was born into a family of nine children in the remote village of Listvyanka in what is now Irkutsk Oblast, Russia. He was a Soviet and Russian cosmonaut, Air Force major general, writer, and artist.


Alexei Leonov was one of the first 20 Soviet Air Force pilots to train as cosmonauts in 1960. In 1965, he became the first person to exit a spacecraft and walk in space — an experience that nearly ended in tragedy. Leonov's spacewalk was a pivotal moment for space exploration as it demonstrated that future space crews would be able to exit their capsule to perform experiments and repairs.

On March 18, 1965, Leonov left Earth on his first flight into space with the Voskhod 2 mission. Leonov served as pilot for the 26-hour flight, commanded by Pavel Beyayev. Ninety minutes after launch, Leonov left the relative safety of his spacecraft, and became the first person to float freely in the vast, silent expanse of space.


"It was so quiet I could even hear my heart beat," Leonov told a British news agency of his spacewalk long after the event. "I was surrounded by stars and was floating without much control. I will never forget the moment. I also felt an incredible sense of responsibility."

His milestone nearly turned to tragedy when he tried to reenter the capsule. The pressure difference between the air in his spacesuit and the vacuum of space expanded his suit and made it so rigid that he couldn't move his fingers. Leonov made the risky decision to open a valve in his suit to release some of the air, and that allowed him to become mobile enough to maneuver the spacecraft's outer hatch. He safely reentered the capsule just in 12 minutes 9 seconds after he had left. 


Upon return to Earth, the spacecraft's on-board computer malfunctioned and the two-man crew landed 600 miles off-course in a remote area of the Ural Mountains, according to the New Mexico Museum of Space History. It took two days for authorities to find and rescue the stranded cosmonauts.

Leonov received the Hero of the Soviet Union award for his accomplishment and became deputy commander of the cosmonaut team.


According to space.com & Wikipedia

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