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50th Anniversary Of The Big Day Americans Rarely Talk About

KPIX 5 Morning Weather Anchor Roberta Gonzales answers the questions you never get to ask on-air.

Today is an amazing day in world history!

Fifty years ago today, man first walked in space. His name is Alexei Leonov, a Russian cosmonaut, who is 80 years young and is working at a bank in Moscow. He wants to stay busy!

A half-century later, he still recalls what his first thought, "the sun was so bright I could barely stand it" to the fear and anxiety which struck him when he realized his astronaut suit inflated, making it too big to re-enter the capsule hatch.

For 12 minutes Leonav floated in the cosmos, filmed Mother Earth, while keenly aware back ON Earth, the Cold War enemies were in a frantic race to conquer space. The historic mission ended with a safe landing three days later, but the crew (Leonov and his co-pilot Pavel Belyayn) narrowly avoided tragedy.

Their landing module failed to separate from the orbital module, creating massive G-forces and they spun around and around thrusting towards Earth. They landed roughly 1,250 miles off course in a thick wooded, snow laden forest, home to wolves and bears, as RT reports.

"We waited three days in the forest to be rescued, and Soviet radio reported we were on holiday after the flight," Leonov said today with a laugh.

10 weeks later the U.S. followed suit with the first American to walk in space. In 1975, a decade later, it was Leonov who commanded the first joint mission between the Soviet Union and the United States.

When asked about the recent strained relations between Washington and Moscow and the Ukraine conflict, Leonov says, "There have never been frontiers between astronauts. The day that this notion sinks into the minds of politicians, our planet will be different."

If you had a chance to ask the first man to walk in space any question, what would it be? I welcome your thoughts and questions!

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