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First artist to go on a spacewalk: Late cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov leaves behind AMAZING SCI-FI PAINTINGS (PHOTOS)

First artist to go on a spacewalk: Late cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov leaves behind AMAZING SCI-FI PAINTINGS (PHOTOS)
Legendary space explorer Aleksei Leonov, who died at the age of 85, was a true romantic. He believed in aliens and drew stunning pictures of cosmonauts and far away planets all his life.

Leonov had been interested in drawing since he was a kid and initially tried joining an art school. But the young man from a poor rural family couldn’t afford to move to a big city.

First artist to go on a spacewalk: Late cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov leaves behind AMAZING SCI-FI PAINTINGS (PHOTOS)

He enlisted in a training program for military pilots instead and, proving his skills in that field, ended up being recruited to the USSR’s maiden cosmonaut squad together with Yury Gagarin.

In 1965, Leonov became the first man ever to exit his capsule while in the Earth’s orbit and perform a spacewalk which lasted 12 minutes and was riddled with emergency situations.

Ten years later, the Siberian native made history again as the commander of the Soviet crew during the 1975 Soyuz-Apollo mission that saw the Russian and American modules docking with each other in space.

But Leonov never thought of giving up on his art, even taking a pencil with him to his space missions to make sketches of what he saw through the ship’s viewing port.

Of course, most of the 200 pictures he drew were space-themed, based on both personal experience and fantasies of manned missions to far away planets, which he hoped humans would explore someday.

His feats in space were what attracted public attention to his art, but the cosmonaut’s works proved worthy of praise from the critics. The self-taught painter became a member of the Soviet Union of Artists, while his drawings appeared on Soviet postal stamps.

Leonov gifted several of his works to the iconic Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. His paintings are also exhibited in other Russian cities and abroad, including Huston in the US and Dresden in Germany.

The cosmonaut made a lot of amazing acquaintances during his life, dining with Pablo Picasso and impressing the author of “2001: A Space Odyssey” Arthur C. Clarke. The writer went on to name the spaceship in “2010: Odyssey Two,” the sequel to his 1968 science fiction novel, Aleksei Leonov.

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Unlike some of his colleagues, Leonov never claimed to have met aliens during his space mission, but said that he was ready to sacrifice his life in order to make contact with extraterrestrials.“If we have life here on Earth, why shouldn’t it exist elsewhere? There’s a billion galaxies out there,” he argued.

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