The Russian space agency confirmed Friday that legendary cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first human to walk in space and later the commander of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that docked with a NASA Apollo capsule, has died after a long illness. CBS News reports: An accomplished amateur artist and a widely respected statesman in the international space community, Leonov remained a lifelong friend of his Apollo-Soyuz Test Project crewmates and a source of inspiration to a younger generation of cosmonauts who carried his photo to the International Space Station and marked his 85th birthday during a spacewalk in May. "Leonov was certainly a cosmonaut's cosmonaut, he was stout of mind, body and heart," James Oberg, an expert on the Russian space program, said in an interview with CBS Radio. "He came through as a real tough guy who could handle problems, including almost being killed on his first spacewalk. But he also was a very decent human being." Speaking to the NASA interviewer 50 years later, Leonov said "I really don't know how I managed to turn and go with my legs first. I was running a fever, I was sweating, I could not see much because of the sweat." Oberg said Leonov "always regretted and apologized in later years that he had been given written statements to give the press about how easy it was and how their training was perfect when, in fact, he said, it was just the opposite. He nearly died." Leonov and Belyayev returned to Earth on March 19, 1965, landing nearly 240 miles off course after their Soyuz descent module did not properly separate from from an upper compartment. Compared to the pinpoint landings Soyuz spacecraft make today returning from the International Space Station, Leonov's landing reads like an action adventure.Read more of this story at Slashdot. Click here to read full news..