The first man to ever walk in space has died

The legendary Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the man who conducted the first-ever extravehicular activity, has passed away at the age of 85.

Russia's state space agency Roscosmos has said it was saddened by Leonov's passing.

On March 18, 1965, Leonov made history when he left a spacecraft during the day-long Voskhod-2 (Sunrise-2) mission for a spacewalk that lasted 12 minutes and nine seconds.

On the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975, Leonov met with USA astronauts in space and gave TV viewers tours of their respective crafts, the first time Soviet and U.S. cosmonauts collaborated in space.

Leonov was born in 1934 in a large peasant family in western Siberia.

He also was the Soviet commander of the Apollo-Soyuz joint space mission in 1975, a prelude to the global cooperation seen aboard the current space station.

"This is a loss for the whole planet", said Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko.

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Leonov's loved ones, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Putin always admired Leonov's courage".

"A tribute to Leonov today is a spacewalk", Mission Control in Houston said. "Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov, artist, leader, spacewalker and friend, I salute you".

Leonov's mission was orchestrated by Sergei Korolev, chief architect of the Soviet space programme and the man responsible for Yuri Gagarin's monumental departure from the Earth's atmosphere on board Vostok 1 in April 1961.

Since Leonov's feat, there have been 227 spacewalkers including 14 women.

Leonov's pioneering spacewalk marked a crucial step for the development of moon landing programs and the International Space Station. He was such a legend that the late science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke named a Soviet spaceship after him in his 2010 sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. He is survived by his widow Svetlana and his younger daughter Oksana.

The memorial service and the funeral are expected to take place on 15 October, at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery.

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