A.A. Leonov

«My greetings to the fair-haired man!»

– these words were uttered by Yuri Gagarin during his flight performed on April 12, 1961. The greeting was addressed to his friend, cosmonaut Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov who would be 80 on May 30, 2014. There were so many remarkable events in Leonov's biography which would have been enough for several human lives!
His pioneer flight beyond earth's atmosphere Leonov performed on March 18-19, 1965. During his spacewalk (and it was the first-ever man-in-space extravehicular activity!) off-nominal situation had occurred: Leonov's spacesuit contrary to the calculations swelled so much that exceeded the hatch diameter hindering him thereby from returning back to space vehicle. Alexei Arkhipovich recalled: «And then I change over to pressure of 0,27 atmospheres disregarding all the instructions and reports to the ground. It is the second mode of spacesuit operation. If by that time nitrogen had not been washed out of blood, it would have started boiling – it would be the end... death. I realized that I had been consuming pure oxygen for an hour or so and there should not be boiling. After I have changed over to the second mode the situation got back to normal».
Leonov managed to get into the airlock with his head ahead of the body instead of his feet ahead of the body which was prohibited by the instruction. He had to turn around inside the airlock, with internal diameter of the airlock being equal to 1 meter and spacesuit width between shoulders reaching 68 cm. «That's where was the greatest load, my pulse rate was up to 190», – Leonov writes.
Tremendous self-control, courage and readiness to any emergencies have helped Alexei Arkhipovich out of trouble time and again. During the same flight, the automatic attitude control system failed in the course of the space vehicle descent and the Voskhod taken away from the populated areas by the crew efforts had performed landing in the remotest depths of Perm taiga. Cosmonauts A.A. Leonov and P.I. Belyaev had to spend two nights exposed to biting frost. Only on the third day the skiing rescuers reached them. The rescuers had to cut through site in the forest for landing search-and-rescue helicopter.
Next time A.A. Leonov set out on a space journey as a space vehicle commander (with V.N. Kubasov as the second cosmonaut) on July 15, 1975. During the flight which lasted nearly 6 days, the world's first docking of the two space vehicles representing two countries – the Soviet Soyuz-19 and the American Apollo – had been performed. Getting ready for that flight, Alexei Leonov who learned German at school had managed to master the English language for just one year!
Thus, Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov had been at the outset of international cooperation in space which is currently focused on the International Space Station utilization.
A.A. Leonov is Twice Hero of the Soviet Union, the USSR State Prize winner; was presented with a lot of awards and titles from different countries and public organizations; he registered 4 inventions and more than 10 scientific papers. He was Deputy Head of the Cosmonauts Training Center, the commander of Cosmonauts Team.
Leonov has written several books with his own illustrations. All his life, since his school years he has painted pictures and even created a few series of postage stamps on space themes together with Andrei Sokolov, the painter-fantasist. In 1972, 6 postage stamps of the series devoted to the 15th anniversary of space age were recognized as the best stamps of the USSR. Since 1965 Leonov is the member of the Soviet Artists' Union, his works can be found in lots of museums, art galleries and exhibition centers worldwide.
We wish A.A. Leonov robust health, happiness, and joint creative projects!





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