Must Reads

Olympic Torch Relay Headed To Space

Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, left, Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA, hold the Olympic torch that will be flown with them to the International Space Station, during a press conference on Wednesday.

hide captionFlight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, left, Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA, hold the Olympic torch that will be flown with them to the International Space Station, during a press conference on Wednesday.

Bill Ingalls/NASA

The Soyuz rocket that launched from Kazakhstan on Wednesday night has some special cargo on board. In addition to three crew members from Japan, Russia and the U.S., the International Space Station-bound probe is carrying an Olympic torch.

Payload specialists Robert Brenton Thirsk, left, and Jean-Jaques Favier hold the Olympic torch they brought to space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia in 1996. i i

hide captionPayload specialists Robert Brenton Thirsk, left, and Jean-Jaques Favier hold the Olympic torch they brought to space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia in 1996.

NASA
Payload specialists Robert Brenton Thirsk, left, and Jean-Jaques Favier hold the Olympic torch they brought to space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia in 1996.

Payload specialists Robert Brenton Thirsk, left, and Jean-Jaques Favier hold the Olympic torch they brought to space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia in 1996.

NASA

As we reported in June, the torch won't be lit — open flame inside the spacecraft would be dangerous and consume precious oxygen. But Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy will carry the torch outside the station as part of a six-hour spacewalk on Nov. 9.

The Olympic torch will return to Earth on Nov. 10, along with three astronauts currently on board the ISS: Karen Nyberg, Luca Parmitano and Fyodor Yurchikhin.

This year's torch relay is the longest in Olympic history. The 123-day journey, which crisscrosses Russia, will cover more than 40,000 miles and involve more than 14,000 torchbearers.

And this trip isn't the first time an Olympic torch has left the planet — one flew with Space Shuttle Columbia in 1996 before the Atlanta games, and another in 2000 on Space Shuttle Atlantis, before the Sydney Olympics.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: