A rocket carrying an unlit Olympic torch has blasted off from Earth ahead of February's winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The Russian Soyuz-FG rocket, emblazoned with the logo of the 2014 Winter Games, launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early Thursday with three crew members: a Russian, an American, and a Japanese citizen. They were en route to the International Space Station, where two Russian cosmonauts living at the station will take the torch on its first-ever spacewalk.
The torch will remain unlit for safety reasons until its return to Earth Monday on a Soyuz spacecraft. It will then travel across Russia before being used to light the Olympic flame February 7 in Sochi, at the opening of the Games.