Olympic Torch Set For Lift-Off With First Ever Trip To Outer Space
A specially branded Sochi 2014 rocket has been prepared for the first ever trip by the Olympic Torch into space.
The Soyuz TMA-11M rocket which will carry the Olympic Torch was set on its launchpad today at the Russian operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The rocket is due to embark on a voyage to the International Space Station on Thursday (November 7).
Upon arrival it will be carried by Michael Tyurin, the commander of the ship, who is accompanied by Japan’s Koichi Wakata and American Richard Mastracchio.
It will be the third occasion on which Tyurin has carried the Torch following previous efforts in June, when it was presented to the Roscosmos Federal Space Agency, and again last month when he carried it in his home town of Kolomna.
The Torch, which will remain unlit for safety reasons, will then embark on a spacewalk in the hands of two other cosmonauts, Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazansky, who have each already been in low earth orbit at the Station for more than a month following special training at the Yuri Gagarin Centre near Moscow.
The spacewalk will take four hours and will be broadcast on Russian television and also Toshiba Vision screen in New York City’s Times Square.
The American space agency NASA also plan to stream the event live on their website for 90 minutes starting at 3.14am GMT.
The highlight of the Spacetrip could come when it flies over Russia and the television footage, filmed by the two cosmonaut’s carrying the Torch, will hope to glimpse Sochi in the background.
The visit is set to be the most ambitious part of a 65,000 kilometre journey which has already seen the Torch travel last month to the North Pole.
After returning to Earth it is also set to reach the bottom of the Lake Baikal – the world’s deepest lake – as well as to scale Europe’s highest peak of Mount Elbrus in February.
The Torch Relay, meanwhile, has prepared for the voyage to Space with a visit to St Petersburg as well as to vast swathes of Arctic tundra region.
In St Petersburg it was carried by City Governor Georgy Poltavchenko as well as by the cross-country skier Lyubov Egorova.
Egorova, who lit the cauldron at Palace Square in the centre of the city, is one of Russia’s biggest sporting heroes having won six gold medals at the Albertville 1992 and the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympic Games.
After passing through the Kalingrad region the Torch then returned to the Arctic circle on a visit to Murmansk.
Among the 82 Torchbearers was Sanjin Karabegovic, a volunteer during the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.
Also present was biathlete and the lighter of the cauldron Sergey Rozhkov, a World Championship relay gold medallist in 2000, who was born in Murmansk.
The following day the Relay continued in Severodvinsk, where the Torch travelled in a racing kart, driven by Russian champion Artem Zelyanin.
In freezing temperatures it then continued the Novyy Urengoy region where the various transport modes included a gyrocycle, snowmobile and an all-terrain vehicle, as well as cycle skis and roller skis, skis, skates, and both dog and reindeer sleds.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.