Cosmonaut who performed first spacewalk dies aged 85

Alexei Leonov, a Soviet-era cosmonaut who was the first man to conduct a spacewalk in 1965, died in Moscow today aged 85 after a long illness.

Russian space agency Roscosmos Space Corporation announced his passing Friday.

"A tribute to Leonov today is a spacewalk", Mission Control in Houston said.

The future cosmonaut had a strong artistic bent and even thought about going to art school before he enrolled in a pilot training course and, later, an aviation college. The rest will be carried out on October 16, 21, and 25, based on the current schedule, but since the first spacewalk already put the team ahead of schedule, the plans for later spacewalks could change.

Leonov's 12-minute spacewalk preceded the first US spacewalk, by Ed White, by less than three months.

In the film, the pair, who made history when they shook hands after the successful Apollo-Soyuz docking in 1975, compare their first-hand spaceflight experiences to RT's SPACEWALK 360, the first-ever panoramic video filmed in open space. In the vacuum of space, his suit had ballooned to the point that it would not fit through the hatch.

British astronaut Tim Peake said Mr Leonov was "a hero to so many, pioneer of spacewalking and always full of wisdom and humour".

On his second trip to space ten years later, Leonov commanded the Soviet half of the Apollo-Soyuz 19 mission.

Morgan has been aboard the space station since July.

Two NASA astronauts are now outside the International Space Station on the second of several planned spacewalks to replace batteries affixed to the outside of the spacecraft.

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

Roscosmos said Mr Leonov's funeral will take place on Tuesday at a military cemetery outside Moscow.

Prominent public figures in Russian Federation commented on Leonov's passing later in the day, expressing sadness and sympathy for his family.