Before he became a cosmonaut, Leonov was a pilot in the Soviet Union’s air force.
Alexey Leonov, an astronaut (or cosmonaut, as they’re known in Russia) who conducted the first walk outside a spacecraft in history and thus became the first man to enter space protected only by his suit, was born on this day in 1934. This event is sometimes colloquially known as the “first spacewalk”.
Leonov was born in Listvyanka in western Siberia, located some 3000 km east of Moscow. Before he became a cosmonaut, Leonov was a pilot in the Soviet Union’s air force. He conducted his first spacewalk on 18 March 1965, at the age of 30. It was part of the mission Voshod 2 and lasted around 12 minutes. When he attempted to get back into his vessel, his suit became inflated. Luckily, he managed to release the pressure from the suit and pass through the hatch.
Leonov later attained the title of general in the Soviet air force and became a double Hero of the Soviet Union. He still enjoys a great reputation in the Russian Federation – Putin and Medvedev both gave him awards.