Soviet cosmonaut Aleksey A. Leonov was the first man who walked in space. It’s a lesser-known fact that he became an accomplished aerospace artist as well, just like his US colleague Alan Bean.

An amateur painter, the pilot of the Voskhod 2 spacecraft and commander of the Soviet Apollo-Soyuz Test Project prime crew brought colored pencils and sketchbook on him on his two historic spaceflights, and between his cosmonaut duties made drawings of Earth and spacecraft.

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Back on Earth Andrei Sokolov, a professional painter and illustrator joined him in his artistic adventures, and together they formed an exceptional creative team. The colours and scenes Leonov had seen in space mixed with Sokolov’s prolific imagination brought never before seen visions to the canvas.

This is how NASA describes Leonov’s working method:

This symbolic artwork, representing a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft docking in Earth orbit with an American Apollo spacecraft, was finished in May 1974. The sketch for the painting was made in 1973 following the signing of the space agreement between the United Stated and the Soviet Union. Leonov said that his painting symbolizes the new type of international cooperation of working together in space. The original painting, which measures 80 centimeters by 160 centimeters (1 cm. = 0.39 in.), is on display in a museum in the city of Baku on the Caspian Sea. In making the sketch for the painting Leonov used a model of an earlier Soyuz spacecraft and a picture of an Apollo spacecraft. Later, he obtained a model of an Apollo which helped him check the configuration of the American spacecraft. The tanks on the Docking Module are no longer exposed on the current DM configuration, he noted. Also, this would not be an exact view of the sun as seen from Earth orbit. Leonov took artist license in stressing the symbolism in his artwork. The Soyuz is represented smaller in the painting than it actually is, Leonov added.

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Besides the iconic painting above you can admire 21 more artworks below created by Leonov, or Sokolov, or both of them.

A Soviet Soyuz spacecraft docking in Earth orbit with an American Apollo spacecraft. Artwork by Leonov, May 1974.

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Source: NASA


Satellite studying the world’s oceans, 1979. Painting by Leonov and Sokolov.

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1985


Over the Aral Sea, 1978. Painting by Sokolov.

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1980


Apollo liftoff by Leonov and Sokolov

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1978


Soyuz launch by Sokolov

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1978


Second stage ignition by Leonov and Sokolov

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1978


Vostok reaches Earth’s orbit. Painting by Sokolov.

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1982


Night launch by Sokolov

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1980


On planet Mercury by Leonov

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1978


In open space (Sokolov)

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1980


Over a cyclone (Sokolov)

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1980


Over the Black Sea (Sokolov)

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1982


Orbital power plant (Leonov, Sokolov)

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1985


Just another expedition (Sokolov)

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1980


Modular space station (Leonov, Sokolov)

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1985


Over a cyclone (Sokolov)

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1985


The flight of Astron (Sokolov)

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1985


The first international space station (Sokolov)

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Source: postcard by Fine Art, Moscow, 1978


1975: The American Apollo-Soyuz Test Project crewmen search the skies for the Soviet Soyuz spacecraft. Artwork by cosmonaut Aleksey A. Leonov, commander of the Soviet ASTP prime crew.

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Source: NASA


Voskhod 2 “The World’s First Spacewalk with Alexey Leonov Soviet cosmonaut “, March 18, 1965, by Leonov (1975)

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Source: Dan Beaumont Space Museum


Voskhod 2 “ The World’s First Spacewalk with Alexey Leonov Soviet cosmonaut “, March 18, 1965, by Leonov (1990)

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Source: Dan Beaumont Space Museum


Altai fields, 1982, by Leonov and Sokolov

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Source: rirodasibiri.ru