Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cosmonaut Alexi Leonov

So, you may be asking, why did I name the Alexi Leonov as such?

It's named after one of the greatest Russian Cosmonauts - Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov. (Alexi is one of several English transliterations).

He was the first man to walk in space in 1965. For 12 minutes and 9 seconds on March 18 of that year, he stepped outside the Voskhod 2 spacecraft, connected only by a thin 17-foot tether. He had the world's greatest view, but he soon encountered problems. His suit soon ballooned, costing him mobility and preventing him from operating cameras. The temperature rose; he was 'up to his knees' in sweat and his body temperature rose 3.2°F (1.8°) - a dangerous rise.

He could barely get back in the airlock; he got temporarily stuck. Much longer, and he would have been forced to swallow his suicide pill. He had to risk decompression sickness by releasing air from his suit. Their automatic reenty computer failed and they had to land manually, then spend a cold night in a forest surrounded by wolves. When asked later, though, he modestly downplayed the danger.

In 1975, he flew on Soyuz 19 - the Russian part of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. The ASTP, with the symbolic handshake in space, effectively ended the Space Race and was a major moment in achieving detente. During the mission, the crews spoke in each others' languages; Leonov joked that there was "Russian, English, and Oklahomski", referring to Tom Stafford's pronounced accent whilst speaking Russian.

He is now perhaps the most famous Cosmonaut, and still alive at 76.
From Wikimedia

His name was given to the central spacecraft in 2010 by Arthur C. Clarke.

He's also an accomplished amateur artist; his most famous work is "Near the Moon", painted in 1967. Interestingly, it's almost identical to the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Leonov noted to Clarke at a 1968 screening.

From Wikipedia

No comments: