Olympic torch blasts into space as prelude to Russia Games

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A rocket carting the Olympic torch was sent into space on Thursday, a rather dramatic prelude to the Sochi 2014 Winter Games that was captured by NASA Live TV.

The images broadcast by the space agency showed the rocket, decorated with a light blue Sochi logo, taking off from Kazakhstan’s Russian-run cosmodrome, heading toward the International Space Station, The Associated Press reported.

This is the first time the torch will take the spacewalk, AP said. In 1996, the torch was carried aboard the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis. But it was never taken out of the craft.

Carrying the torch aboard the Soyuz rocket were representatives from three countries: Mikhail Tyurin from Russia, Rick Mastracchio from the U.S. NASA and Koichi Wakata from Japan.

The torch will not remain lit aboard the outpost because the flame would take too much oxygen, AP reported. Rather, crew members will simply cart the torch — minus fire — around the modules and on a spacewalk.

From  left, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and U.S. astronaut Rick Mastracchio, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station (ISS), walk to a bus from a hotel with an Olympic torch prior the launch of a Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The crew will deliver Olympic torch to space as part of the ongoing Olympic torch relay. The torch will be brought back along with the station's current crew. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

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From left, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and U.S. ... more >

“It’s a great pleasure and responsibility getting to work with this symbol of peace,” Mr. Tyurin said, AP reported.

The torch will return to Earth in five days.

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