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Astronauts Remember Handshake In Space 40 Years Later

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Astronauts remember handshake in space on 40th anniversary. Astronauts remember handshake in space on 40th anniversary.
WEATHERFORD, Oklahoma -

It's known as the handshake in space; the moment when a US Astronaut from Oklahoma shook the hand of a Soviet Cosmonaut while in space in front of the world.

Monday night the 40-year anniversary of the handshake was remembered in Weatherford by a number of astronauts including the two men.

The out-of-this-world exploits of General Tom Stafford of Weatherford are everywhere in the Stafford Air and Space Museum in his hometown.

But the friendship forged with the other half of the historic handshake is another important part of US space history.

“We knew three languages, Russian, Great Britain, and Oklahoma language,” joked General Alexey Leonov, who shook Stafford's hand.

In fact, when the US Apollo and Russia's Soyuz first docked in space in 1975, it was General Alexey Leonov who first greeted General Stafford with a "howdy."

“He understood Oklahoma,” General Stafford told News 9 Monday.

General Leonov and General Stafford first met in 1971 when the Oklahoman visited Moscow to pay tribute to three cosmonauts lost during a Soyuz tragedy.

“It was a very human personal experience,” said Leonov about Stafford's visit.

Both men have visited the other's hometown and still remain close.

Monday night 10 astronauts will be at the museum to mark a meeting that ended the Space Race between the superpower countries and was also credited with being the start to the end of the Cold War.

“It's really great to look back at what we accomplished in helping bring the world together,” said General Stafford.

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