News / Europe

International Space Crew Return Olympic Torch to Earth

Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin holds the torch of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games after landing near the town of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan, Nov. 11, 2013.
Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin holds the torch of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games after landing near the town of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan, Nov. 11, 2013.
Reuters
— A Russian spacecraft brought three astronauts and the Olympic torch back to Earth on Monday after the torch was taken on its first spacewalk in the run-up to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Russia's Fyodor Yurchikhin beamed as he held up the silver-and-red torch alongside American Karen Nyberg and Italian Luca Parmitano on the Kazakh steppe after returning from the International Space Station after a 166-day mission.

Slowed by parachutes and braking rockets fired to soften the impact, their Soyuz TMA-09M capsule landed on schedule at 8:49 a.m. (0249 GMT) after a three-and-half-hour descent.

”The Olympic torch is home after a four-day journey,” a NASA TV announcer said after the flawless descent through a cloudless sky and a “bulls-eye touchdown” in the tall tawny brush of central Kazakhstan, near the remote town of Zhezkazgan.

President Vladimir Putin, who has been in power since 2000, has staked his reputation on a successful Olympics. His image abroad has been damaged by what critics say is a clampdown on dissent, and a law banning homosexual “propaganda” among minors.

The torch was unlit throughout the space voyage, for safety reasons.

That also precluded the possibility that the flame could fail - a problem that has occurred dozens of times, including an incident captured live on national television in which the torch went out in the Kremlin minutes after Putin presided over the start of the relay.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky took it with them on a spacewalk on Saturday, posing outside the orbiting station with the first Olympic torch taken into the vacuum of space.

After their return to Earth, Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano were pulled through the hatch of the cramped capsule, carried to chairs and covered with thick blankets against the minus 4 Centigrade (25 Fahrenheit) cold outside.

The torch was then handed to a Sochi 2014 official and flown by helicopter - separately from the three space travelers - to the provincial capital Karaganda.

Record-breaking relay

The torch taken on the spacewalk will be used to light the flame at the Olympics in February in Sochi, a Russian resort city on the Black Sea. The torch was taken into space in 1996 and 2000 but had not previously been outside the space station.

In Karaganda, Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano were given traditional Kazakh robes and chocolates with their pictures on the boxes. Nyberg felt unwell and skipped a news conference.

”Space is a serious thing,” Yurchikhin said. “It affects different bodies and different people in different ways,” said he.

Russia cast the spacewalk as part of its pre-Sochi torch relay, a record-breaking trek meant to show off the country's size, diversity and post-Soviet achievements, but the 65,000 km (40,000 mile) relay continued separately on the ground.

Since Putin held a torch aloft in Red Square on October 6, bearers have taken the Olympic flame to the North Pole and will bring it to Europe's highest peak, Mount Elbrus, in the longest torch relay before any Winter Games.

The torch was taken on Thursday to the space station, a $100 billion project of 15 nations, by Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, American Rick Mastracchio and Russian Mikhail Tyurin.

The returning crew also brought back a piece of a spacesuit worn by Parmitano that may have been responsible for a leak that caused his helmet to fill with water, forcing an emergency end to NASA's last spacewalk on July 16.

The torch display was a success, but other tasks on the nearly six-hour spacewalk on Saturday did not go as well.

The cosmonauts were unable to fold up an antenna from an experiment involving predicting seismic events such as earthquakes, or to reposition a platform designed to anchor astronauts' legs when they work outside the station.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid