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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More