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Olympic torch to travel in space, says officials
June 24, 2013, 9:05 am


The Russian Olympic torch on display [AP]

The Olympic flame will for the first time make an interstellar pit stop at the International Space Station as part of the Sochi 2014 torch relay, Russian Olympic officials confirmed on Monday.

Sochi chief organiser Dmitry Chernyshenko and Vladimir Popovkin, head of Russia’s space agency signed the ambitious plan.

The torch will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in central Kazakhstan on November 7, meaning the relay will take the unusual step of leaving the Olympic host country even before venturing hundreds of kilometres into space.

“This is a demonstration of our successes and our achievements and Russians, they should be proud,” Chernyshenko said at Star City, the site of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow.

“Today we have added a new page in the history of the Sochi Olympic Games project.”

Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and American engineer Richard Mastracchio and Japanese engineer Koichi Wakata will accompany the torch in a Soviet-designed Soyuz spacecraft.

The station, which is currently commanded by Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, has an orbit height of 370 to 460 kilometres, according to NASA.

When on board, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazan will chaperone the torch on a spacewalk, Chernyshenko said.

The torch will remain unlit throughout the voyage because of safety regulations on board the Soyuz and at the ISS.

“We’ve got a rocket fuelled by oxygen and kerosene, so there are basic safety rules,” Popovkin said. “There can’t be any naked flames.”

After the flame arrives from Greece in October, it begins a 123-day, roughly 65,000-kilometre odyssey in Moscow, on its way through more than 2,900 towns in Russia’s 83 regions.

The torch will finally make its way back into European Russia, eventually winding down to the Black Sea resort of Sochi for the Opening Ceremony on February 7, 2014.

Source: Agencies

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