- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2013

For the first time in history, the Olympic torch will go on a spacewalk ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The torch will be sent to the International Space Station on board a Russian spacecraft, set to blast off early Thursday from the Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, The Associated Press reported.

Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin, NASA’s Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata of Japan are taking the torch to the space station, and then Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazanskiy, who are part of the station’s current crew, will take the unlit torch into open space on Saturday, the report said.

Lighting a flame would burn up oxygen that is vital to the crew, so the torch will remain unlit for its debut.

The torch will stay in space for five days until Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency take it back to Earth on Monday. It will then be used to light the Olympic flame at Sochi’s stadium on Feb. 7, kicking off the Winter Games, which run until Feb. 23, AP reported.