The Olympic torch has boldly gone where no Olympic torch has gone before: into the vacuum of space! Today at 9:34am EST, two Russian cosmonauts (Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy) began a six-hour spacewalk, moving the torch around the International Space Station to honor the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
The torch joined the crew of the ISS on Thursday, coming aboard on a Soyuz with NASA’s Rick Mastracchio, cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. Its journey to space is short-lived, however; the torch will head back to Earth tomorrow, returning home with NASA’s Karen Nyberg, cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, Luca Parmitano of the ESA.
Though this is the third time a torch has been launched into space (the first two taking flight in space shuttles in 1996 and 2000), the Sochi torch will be the first to emerge for a spacewalk. It’s also cosmonaut Ryazanskiy’s first-ever trip into the black; “I’m honestly looking forward to this, my first real-life spacewalk,” said Ryazanskiy. “We will perform usual EVA [spacewalk] with some special tasks … with the Olympic torch. This is part of [the] official Olympic torch relay that is now in our country.”
The torch was unlit for the walk – the physical flame currently located in Yakutsk, Russia – and the cosmonatus posed with it in front of the Earth before passing it back and forth, making them an official part of the Olympic relay. Back on Earth, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to ever fly t0 space, also carried the torch as part of the relay on October 19th. Ryazanskiy’s wife and Kotov’s daughter will also participate in the relay on solid ground.
You can watch the rest of the six-hour spacewalk live, right here on NASA TV.
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