Snippets of History: On March 18, 1965, the Soviet spacecraft Voshkod-2 launched from its base in Baikonur, in modern day Kazakhstan, onboard were two cosmonauts AceHistoryDesk report

In March 1965, at the age of 30, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov made the first spacewalk in history, beating out American rival Ed White on Gemini 4 by almost three months: Floating outside his tiny Voskhod 2 capsule for 10 exhilarating minutes, Leonov felt, he writes, “like a seagull with its wings outstretched, soaring high above the Earth.” In keeping with the secrecy of the Soviet space program, few people—not even his family—knew about the spacewalk ahead of time.

The Nightmare of Voskhod 2

A cosmonaut remembers the exhilaration — and terror — of his first space mission.

moon.jpg__600x0_q85_upscale.jpgVoskhod 2 was Leonov’s first spaceflight. Before becoming a cosmonaut, he flew MiGs. (NASA )By Alexei Leonov

Even less well known was how close Leonov and his crewmate, Pavel (Pasha) Belyayev, came to dying that day.

In his recently published book, Two Sides of the Moon, written with U.S. Apollo astronaut David Scott, Leonov recounts the spacewalk and its even more dramatic aftermath.

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