Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space and create art there, died on October 11th, aged 85.
Climbing from the open airlock of Voskhod-2, Alexei Leonov felt quite calm. He was cool-headed, focused. This often disappointed people. "What!" they would exclaim. "The door into the universe had been opened, and you felt nothing?" They forgot that he had been through all that training at the Star City cosmonaut school, jumping into deep water, acrobatics, and the rest. They forgot that his head was full of data and instructions.
All the same, as he released one hand, then one foot, then the whole of him, until only a 5.5-metre rope held him to the world of men, he could feel as mile starting on his face and spreading. He was calm mostly because he was enthralled. He spread his bulky suited arms, kicked his legs and floated, free. In the silence he could hear only his heartbeat and his heavy breathing.
Stars were all around him against a coal-black sky. They did not blink. Below him, 500km below, lay the Black Sea. He knew it well, notonly as a Russian patriot, but because he had visited its shores dozens of times. Now, on March 18th 1965, he saw it whole, gun-metal grey, with a tiny dot of a ship on it that seemed caught from all sides in a flow of light. He too was a dot, a grain of sand in the near-blinding dazzle of the unobscured sun. It came through his visor like a welder's torch. He saw the Earth revolve, the only moving thing apart from himself. What struck him most forcibly was how round it was, how beautiful, and how blue. His reverie ended in near-disaster.