News / Europe

    Russia to Take Olympic Torch on First Space Walk

    International Space Station (ISS) crew members, (L to R) Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and U.S. astronaut Rick Mastracchio, pose with the torch of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Nov. 6, 2013.
    International Space Station (ISS) crew members, (L to R) Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and U.S. astronaut Rick Mastracchio, pose with the torch of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Nov. 6, 2013.
    Reuters
    Two Russian cosmonauts will take the Olympic torch on its first space walk this week in a spectacular showcase for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

    For safety reasons, the torch will not be lit. That may be a relief for Russia as the flame has gone out many times since the torch relay began last month, a minor setback as President Vladimir Putin tries to use the Games to boost Russia's image.

    Russian Mikhail Tyurin, American Rick Mastracchio and Japan's Koichi Wakata will have the torch with them on Thursday when they blast off for the International Space Station from the Baikonur cosmodrome, which Moscow rents from Kazakhstan.

    Tyurin will hand the torch to fellow cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky, who are on the orbiting station, when they go on a space walk on Saturday.

    The Olympic torch has been carried into space twice before, in 1996 and 2000, but it has never been taken outside a spacecraft.

    “Our goal here is to make it look spectacular,” Kotov told reporters before his own mission began. “We'd like to showcase our Olympic torch in space. We will try to do it in a beautiful manner. Millions of people will see it live on TV and they will see the station and see how we work.”

    The torch will be brought back to Earth by Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin, American astronaut Karen Nyberg and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano on Nov. 11.

    It then continues the 65,000-km (40,000-mile) relay which has taken the torch to the North Pole on an atomic-powered ice breaker and will take it to Europe's highest peak, Mount Elbrus, and the depths of Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    As well as replacing the gas flame, Russian engineers have equipped the torch with a tether. “It was reworked to take it into open space... just so that it doesn't fly away,” said Sergei Krikalev, head of the Cosmonauts' Training Center outside Moscow.

    Putin's ambitions

    While the Russian-made red-and-silver torch is in space, the flame will remain lit on Earth.

    The size and grandeur of the relay are in tune with Putin's attempts to use the Games to portray Russia as a modern state and show how far it has come since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

    The former KGB spy has staked a lot of personal political prestige on the two-week Games, which start on Feb. 7 after the torch reaches Sochi.

    The Soyuz craft carrying the three-man crew into space on Thursday will be emblazoned with the Sochi 2014 logo and a blue-and-white snowflake pattern. It is due to take off at (10:41 a.m. (0414 GMT) and reach the space station six hours later.

    “The Olympics are a huge international event that takes many, many countries cooperating and working together to pull off such a tremendous event,” Mastracchio, 53, told a news conference at Baikonur on the Kazakh steppe.

    “So in a small way, I think it's great that we bring this symbol up to the international space station, which is another representation of international cooperation.”

    The arrival of the torch-bearing Soyuz will briefly swell the space station crew to nine, the most that have been on board the orbital outpost since the last U.S. shuttle mission in 2011.

    Wakata, 50, will be the first Japanese astronaut to command a crew on the space station.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.