‘The Cosmonaut ambassador to the world’: Buzz Aldrin pays tribute to pioneering Soviet spaceman Alexei Leonov

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, has paid a touching tribute to fellow space explorer Alexei Leonov, the veteran Soviet cosmonaut who passed away on Friday.

“The Cosmonaut ambassador to the world,” Aldrin tweeted on Friday. “A great pleasure to be his friend. He tried for the moon but we made it.”

“Farewell and Godspeed Alexi,” Aldrin signed off.

Leonov passed away in Moscow on Friday morning, aged 85. More than five decades earlier, he made history by becoming the first man to carry out a spacewalk, exiting his capsule for 12 minutes in 1965.He was then selected to be the first man to walk on the moon, but when Aldrin touched down on the Lunar surface with Neil Armstrong in 1969 the USSR canceled its moon project. 

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After the end of the Cold War, Leonov and Aldrin struck up a friendship, with both astronaut and cosmonaut calling for more cooperation between Russia and the US in space, and sharing jokes during public appearances. “I asked Alexey Leonov if he drank vodka before or after I walked on the moon,” Aldrin once joked. “He laughed & said both.” 

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