Following the loss of the DOS 3 station in May 1973 Leonov and Kubasov were reassigned to the Apollo-Soyuz programme. They lifted off in Soyuz 19 on 15 July 1975. The Apollo carried a special airlock on its nose and was the active partner in the docking. In the two days during which the two spacecraft were linked the crews visited each other several times. Half an hour after separation, the Soyuz played the

After almost 10 years of continuous training for circumlunar, lunar landing and space station missions, Aleksey Leonov (foreground) finally returned to space in July 1975 with flight engineer Valeriy Kubasov, for the Apollo-Soyuz mission.

As one of the chiefs at the TsPK, Leonov was responsible for selecting and training cosmonauts. On the left he takes the exams from Popov and Lebedyev in 1980 (for the Salyut 6 programme), and on the right from Manarov, Titov and Levchenko in 1987 (for the Mir programme).

active role and docked again. Three hours later they undocked and took spectacular photographs of one another prior to moving clear. Leonov and Kubasov returned to Earth on 21 July. As had been the case for the launch and docking, the landing was also broadcast ‘live’ on TV – marking a new degree of openness in the Soviet space programme. For this mission Leonov was awarded a second Gold Star of a Hero of the Soviet Union and was promoted to Major-General.

In March 1976 he was appointed commander of the cosmonauts at the TsPK. In March 1981 he was awarded a master’s degree by the N. A. Zhukovskiy Air Force Engineering Academy. In January 1982 he was made first deputy to the chief of the TsPK, General Beregovoy. This marked the end of his 22-year cosmonaut career. In 1985 Beregovoy retired. Shatalov proposed Leonov as his successor, but Glushko at NPO Energiya objected so Leonov continued to run the training of the cosmonauts, their exams, and the selection of the crews. He played a key role in the preparations for the mission of Soyuz T-13 which brought the crippled Salyut 7 back to life in 1985. Leonov was retired in September 1991 at the age of 57. He got a letter from the Commander in Chief of the Air Force in which, together with an expression of thanks, he was praised as a ‘‘founder of the school for cosmonaut training’’ – which was not far from the truth, given that since the death of Gagarin in 1968 he had not only trained space flight candidates but had also prepared many of the crews.

Having left the TsPK, Leonov was made president of the Alfa-Capital Investment Fund, and also of the companies Bering-Vostok and Vostok-Capital. In July 1996 his family was struck a terrible blow when his elder daughter Victoria Alekseyevna died during a medical operation at the age of 35. In 1997 he became vice-president of the Alfa-Bank, and in December 2005 also became a consultant to the Sladko confectionery company. Despite his age, he is in excellent health and is very active in the Association of Space Flight Participants, often attending the meetings which deal with key events in the history of cosmonautics. He was one of the initiators of the project to make a movie about the life of Sergey Korolev, which was released in January 2007 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of this giant of the Soviet space programme. In 2005 Leonov became president of the Russian-Serbian

Society of Friendship. A 38-km-diameter crater on the Moon has been named after him. Having previously co-authored two books, in 2004 he co-authored Two Sides of the Moon with the American astronaut David R. Scott, in which they interleave their parallel stories in the rival space programmes as a unique dual autobiography. Although he travels a lot, Leonov frequently indulges his old passion by painting cosmic themes. So far, eight albums of paintings have been published with Leonov as author or co-author.

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