Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Russian Cosmonaut Celebrates 50 Years Since Pioneering Spacewalk

Alexei Leonov (L) and Valery Kubasov preparing to launch aboard the Soyuz.

Fifty years ago today Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov made history by becoming the first man to walk in space — an accomplishment as significant in the history of spaceflight as Yury Gagarin's flight into space and Neil Armstrong's steps on the moon.

A native of Siberia, Leonov was one of the original 20 cosmonauts selected for space flights. On March 18, 1965 — almost four years after Gagarin flight — Leonov became the first man to walk in space when he crawled out of an inflatable airlock strapped to the side of his Voskhod 2 capsule.

After 12 minutes floating in space, tethered to his spaceship by a 5 meter long line, it was time for Leonov to get back inside and prepare to return home.

However, an unforeseen complication almost cost him his life. His space suit, free of external atmospheric pressure, ballooned up in the vacuum of space, making it difficult for him to move and impossible to fit back into the airlock.

In order to get back inside Voskhod 2 and not die in space, Leonov took a bold step — he opened the suit just a bit to vent some of the air inside. The trick worked, but he lost six kilograms from sweating as he struggled to pull himself back inside.

Despite the danger he faced, he achieved two major objectives — beating the Americans to the deed and showing the world that humans could enter the vacuum of space, a crucial step for the development of moon landing programs and the International Space Station.

Leonov flew a second time in 1975, when he was the commander of the Soviet half of the landmark Apollo-Soyuz test project, the first Russian-American joint space mission.

Today, Leonov works for Alfa Bank as a vice president and sits on the board of directors. A movie about his career as a cosmonaut is due to begin filming on June 1, news agency TASS reported Wednesday.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more