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"Alexei Leonov Emerges from Voskhod 2"

 

Alexei Leonov  emerging from Voskhod Two

"Alexei Leonov Emerges from Voskhod 2" (1977) - For better or worse, humankind's first steps beyond its home planet became a foot race between disparate ideologies. These early space missions were neither timid nor cautious. With so little known about what awaited in space, new technologies needed to be rapidly developed under the pressure of nationalistic competition. Success also demanded a re-definition of human courage among the handful of men and women who stepped forward to be the brave pilots of these new ships.

With landing humans on the Moon as the ultimate goal, the American and Soviet programs both recognized the need for space travelers to be able to step outside the relative safety of their spacecraft. This was first accomplished in 1965 with the Soviet Voskhod 2 spacecraft, manned by Pavel Belyayev and Alexei Leonov. Leonov emerged from a collapsible air lock and floated freely outside Voskhod for twelve minutes. In attempting to re-enter the spacecraft he had to slightly de-pressurize his suit because it had become too rigid for the him to maneuver back in the air lock. He made it safely back inside, but the two cosmonaut's troubles were just beginning.

They had to perform a manual re-entry when the automatic system failed. Things got worse when the landing module did not fully detach, causing the spacecraft to tumble out of control until the two sections finally separated. Belyleyev and Leonov survived, but landed 250 miles off course in a forest that was inaccessible to rescue aircraft. The men spent the sub-zero night huddled in the open capsule (the exit hatch had blown) surrounded by wolves until rescuers arrived on skis the following day. The cosmonauts themselves had to ski to the recovery helicopter.

Just over four years later, another space traveler stepped outside of a ship named "Eagle" to make the first footprints on the Moon.

Copyright 1977, James Hervat

Publication: Sky and Telescope

 

PRINTS AVAILABLE

High-quality reproductions of all the artwork in this gallery are available from my Print Store. They are offered in a range of sizes, printed on paper, canvas or other print substrates. Prints can be ordered unframed or you can choose from a selection of framing and matting options. Orders are usually shipped in 2-3 business days and come with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee return policy. Please see the PRINTS page for more information and a link to the Print Store.

 

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