Leonov, Alexei Archipovich (1934–)
Alexei Leonov was a Soviet cosmonaut who, on March 18, 1965, during the flight of Voskhod 2, became the first person to go on a spacewalk. He also served as the Soviet
capsule commander during the Apollo-Soyuz
Test Project (ASTP). Leonov graduated with honors from Chuguyev Higher
Air Force School in 1957, then joined the Soviet Air Force as a fighter
pilot before being selected as one of the original group of 20 cosmonauts
on Mar. 7, 1960. Following the Voskhod 2 mission, he attended the Zhukovsky
Air Force Engineering Academy, graduating in 1968. For various reasons,
his return to space was much delayed. He was assigned to the secret manned Soviet lunar project, but this
was canceled. Later he was put on the flight crew of Soyuz 11 but, a few days before launch, another crewmember became ill, and the
backup crew was sent instead. All three backup crewmembers died due to a
malfunction during reentry. As a result, the flight that Leonov had been
reassigned to, Soyuz 12a, was canceled. His next scheduled flight, aboard
Soyuz 12b, was also canceled because of the in-orbit failure of Cosmos 557.
Finally, Leonov returned to space as commander of Soyuz 19 on the ASTP.
While in orbit, he made sketches, including one of the American astronaut
Thomas Stafford, using a set of colored
pencils attached to his wrist with a makeshift bracelet. Leonov was subsequently
promoted to major-general. Later he became deputy director of the Gagarin
Cosmonaut Training Center and is currently chief of the Center's International
Detachment, training guest cosmonauts for space travel.