In 1965, cosmonaut Alexei Leonov became the first person to walk in space, once again demonstrating the strength of the Soviet Union in the race to conquer space.
An illustrious career
Alexei Leonov (1934-2019) was a Soviet cosmonaut, assigned to the Voskhod 2 spacecraft, which performed the first spacewalk in human history, died on May 11. October 2019.
The 85 years of Leonov’s life are an illustrious career. In the period 1970-1991, he held the post of Deputy Director of the Astronaut Training Center. Around the same time, in 1975, it took part in the Apollo-Soyuz test project, the first spaceflight of the two Soviet-American superpowers together, in which the command module and the service translation module of the United States States are incorporated into the Soviet Module. This time Commander Leonov was the leader of the Soviet crew.
After his retirement in 1991, Leonov worked with commercial works and devoted his time to art and painting, mainly on the theme of space. Most importantly, he will always be remembered for being the first person to enter and return from space. This trip is the storyline of the 2017 movie Spacewalk.
Scenes from the movie Spacewalk 2017
“Each flight must mobilize all your energy, your knowledge and your skills‘, said Leonov after his adventures. “I only have 12 minutes in space. But now I can say that each of those minutes requires a year of preparation on Earth.
His path to space was typical of the Soviet Union: he was born on the outskirts of the Siberian city of Kemerovo (3600 km east of Moscow). Through his strenuous efforts, he became a pilot, experienced enough and brave enough to join the Soviet Union’s first crew in 1960 – a year before Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit.
Pilot Alexei Leonov. Photo: Russian Beyond
At the time, the Soviet Union was conquering space bit by bit. In 1961, the first manned space mission took place (Yuri Gagarin). In 1963, the first woman (Valentina Tereshkova) flew into space. In 1964, the first flight took place with more than one person. The next step is to send an astronaut into outer space, leaving him alone in the endless void.
“When meeting new flight candidates, I missed Leonov the most,” recalls Boris Chertok, a rocket designer who worked on the Soviet space program. Rockets and people. “He has something, a bit like Gagarin’s courage… and a very captivating gaze.” Chertok was not the only one to be so impressed, which is why the Soviet Union chose Leonov for this mission.
The stars and the state of emergency
“Sparkling Stars Left, Right, Above and Beyond Me”, Leonov recalls – the magnificent sight opened up before him after his first step into space and remained with him all his life. He was not alone in this dramatic journey which took place in March 1965. Voshod-2 is under the command of cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev, who helps Leonov get back to the ship in case of trouble.
Alexei Leonov made the first spacewalk, 1965,
It really happened! Simulating all space conditions on Earth is impossible. During 12 minutes of floating next to the spacecraft, connected to the spacecraft via a 5.3-meter extension cord, Leonov’s spacesuit began to inflate, making movement more difficult. In such an inflated suit, it was almost impossible for Leonov to return to Voskhod-2, he moved very slowly and suffered from severe overload. The possibility of being left out in space really does exist.
“[Sau khi quay trở về tàu]I took my helmet off and tried to wipe the sweat from my eyes but couldn’t, like someone was pouring water on my head.”, recalls Leonov. His adventure and that of Belyayev were far from over: the automatic grounding system had failed, they had to land manually. To avoid destroying objects on the ground, Belyayev was forced to steer the ship north to the Urals, and the two were parachuted from the ship.
Long way home
Because the communication system got out of control (later it turned out to be a serious incident), the two astronauts had to find a way to survive in the forest, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest town, for two whole days. “We put on astronaut suits and stayed there for two days, we had no other clothes.”, says Leonov. Eventually they were rescued and brought back to Moscow.
Everyone welcomes Leonov and Belyayev safely. Picture: BBC
“We almost died three or four times during the whole mission.”, summarized Leonov. Unlike Pavel Belyayev, who died in 1970 at the age of 40, Leonov lived a long and fulfilling life, longer than the country that sent him to the stars (the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991) .