BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan--Russia sent the Olympic torch into space with a three-man crew, including Koichi Wakata of Japan, that blasted off to the International Space Station on Nov. 7, three months before the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
The torch, unlit for safety reasons, was part of the payload of a Soyuz spacecraft that lifted off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.
Crew members Wakata, Mikhail Tyurin of Russia and Rick Mastracchio of the United States are to arrive after a six-hour flight at the orbiting outpost 450 kilometers above Earth.
Wakata, 50, will be the first Japanese astronaut to command a crew on the space station.
Two Russian cosmonauts are to take the torch out on a space walk on Nov. 9--the first time an Olympic torch is to be carried into open space. Olympic torches were brought along on U.S. space shuttle voyages before the 1996 and 2000 Games.
Decorated with a Sochi 2014 logo and a colorful snowflake design, the rocket lifted off on schedule at 10:14 local time from the Russian-leased facility in Kazakhstan.
The torch is to be returned to Earth on Nov. 11 to continue a 65,000-km relay culminating with the start of the Olympics in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Feb. 7.
- « Prev
- Next »