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

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid