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Cosmonauts carry Olympic torch in space


November 10, 2013

Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov waves the Olympic torch outside the International Space Station (Image: NASA TV)

Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov waves the Olympic torch outside the International Space Station (Image: NASA TV)

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Over the past century, carrying the Olympic torch from Athens to the venue of the next games has become an elaborate relay race spanning continents and oceans. Yesterday, the torch for next year's Winter Olympics in Russia took a detour into orbit as two Russian cosmonauts working outside the International Space Station (ISS) conducted the first ever handover in the vacuum of space.

The handover was carried out by Expedition 37 Flight Engineers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy shortly after they emerged from the Pirs docking compartment at 9:34 AM EST at the start of a nearly six-hour spacewalk to conduct maintenance operations.. Wearing color-coded and number Orlan spacesuits, the cosmonauts did the handover about 260 mi (420 km) above the Earth, and the event was transmitted over television and the internet by NASA TV.

The torch arrived at the ISS on Thursday aboard the Soyuz spacecraft ferrying the Expedition 38 astronauts. For safety reasons, the torch is unlit and during the spacewalk was tethered to Kotov by a safety line to keep it from floating away if he let go.

This isn't the first time an Olympic torch has flown into space. The first was in 1996 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis to commemorate that year’s games, but today marked the first time the torch was taken outside a spacecraft.

After returning to Earth on Sunday, the olympic relay will continue and ends with the lighting of the Olympic flame on February 7, 2014 during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The video below shows the handover of the torch.

Source: NASA

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

They are missing the point of the Olympic torch in order to advertise their space capabilities: The torch is supposed to carry the original Olympic flame all the way to the place of the games. If you extinguish it you don't have the original Olympic flame anymore...


It will be relit with the original backup flame.

Dawar Saify
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