Alexei Leonov, the first man to ever walk in space has died

Alexei Leonov has died aged 85 ( Getty Images )

(CNN) – The first person to perform a space walk, Alexei Leonov, passed away this week. He was 85.

Russian space agency Roscosmos Space Corporation announced his passing Friday. State news agency RIA-Novosti reported Leonov had been chronically ill before his death.

Though Leonov was not the first man on the moon, he earned his own “first” in the space race between the US and Soviet Union. On March 18, 1965, he embarked on the first spacewalk, spending 12 minutes outside the Voskhod 2 capsule.

The first American to walk in space, Ed White, would not do so until a few months later in June of 1965.

On the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975, Leonov met with US astronauts in space and gave TV viewers tours of their respective crafts, the first time Soviet and US cosmonauts collaborated in space. The mission is credited with kick-starting eventual international cooperation aboard the International Space Station.

Leonov was also a celebrated artist who brought colored pencils to space to sketch the view of Earth. His drawing of the sunrise is considered the first piece of art created in space.

Leonov’s funeral will be held on October 15 at Mytishchi Military Memorial cemetery outside Moscow, Russia.

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