Alexei Leonov, the first person to ever walk in space, died last Friday at age 85. Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam joined Boston Public Radio on Wednesday to talk about his brief encounter with Leonov and to discuss the Soviet space program.

Leonov's first space walk didn't go smoothly, Beam noted.

"His suit basically inflated in space so he couldn't get back in the hatch," he said. "He didn't panic and was able to let air out of his space suit without depressurizing it."

The Soviets didn't reveal this story or other mishaps until much later, Beam added.

"A lot of these facts about the Soviet space program didn't emerge until decades afterwards," he said. "None of this was ever revealed at the time."

Beam also recalled his experience running into Leonov at a car repair shop in 1983 in Moscow.