The first man to ever walk in space has died

Mr Leonov made history in 1965 when he left a spacecraft during the Voskhod 2 mission for a spacewalk that lasted 12 minutes and nine seconds

During the mission, his spacesuit filled with air to the point where he struggled to get back into the spacecraft.

An artist as well as a cosmonaut, Leonov took colored pencils altered for zero gravity with him on Voskhod 2, and sketched an orbital sunrise, which is considered the first piece of art created in space.

Besides his pioneering role in the early space program of the Soviet Union, Leonov was an accomplished artist and was considered an elder statesman in the worldwide space community, providing inspiration for future astronauts of many nations.

In July 1975, Leonov commanded the Soyuz capsule, which set a standard of worldwide cooperation in space when it docked for two days with NASA's Apollo capsule.

The cosmonaut was well known for his humour. The détente-inspired mission saw the last Apollo spacecraft rendezvous in space with a Soviet Soyuz, as a demonstration of supposedly thawing US-Soviet relations. "We should collaborate and work together". "That worked, they opened it and drank (the borscht) and were caught by surprise".

The flight and spacewalk were successful on the whole, but his return to Earth almost ended in tragedy when Mr Leonov and another cosmonaut, Mr Pavel Belyayev, crash-landed in the Siberian woods. Leonov's two space flights totaled just over seven days in orbit.

"You have made a great contribution to Russian cosmonautics and have promoted its outstanding achievements", Putin has said.

When his crew returned to earth at the end of June, Leonov was already unwell. "Putin always admired Leonov's courage".

Messages of condolences poured in from around the globe following news of his death.

Leonov handed away in Moscow on Friday morning, aged 85.

NASA tweeted out a tribute clip saying that Leonov's venture into the vacuum of space began the history of extravehicular activity that makes Friday's Space Station maintenance possible.

"The Cosmonaut ambassador to the world", Aldrin tweeted on Friday. "I requested Alexey Leonov if he drank vodka earlier than or after I walked on the moon", Aldrin as soon as joked.

Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov has died at the age of 85, Interfax reports.

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