Olympic Torch Blasts Off for Space Station
Cosmonauts aren't planning on lighting it
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2013 1:55 AM CST
From left, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and US astronaut Rick Mastracchio walk to a bus with the Olympic torch.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

(Newser) – The Russians are taking the Olympic torch relay to a new height—the International Space Station. The 2014 Sochi torch, which will not be lit during its five days in space, blasted off on a Soyuz rocket this morning accompanied by Russia's Mikhail Tyurin, American Rick Mastracchio, and Koici Wakata from Japan. The torch has been to space before, aboard the space shuttle Atlantic before the 1996 Atlanta Games, but two Russian cosmonauts plan to take it on its first spacewalk this week.

As part of a four-month, 14,000-bearer relay before the Games kick off in February, the torch has already been to the North Pole aboard a Russian icebreaker and will be taken to the bottom of Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake, and to the top of Mount Elbrus, Europe's highest mountain, the AP reports. But in another setback for a Games already troubled by allegations of corruption and a backlash against Russia's harsh anti-gay laws, the flame has gone out several times since the relay last month, the BBC notes.

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Nov 7, 2013 9:53 AM CST
At least its not going to be lit in the ISS lol.
Nov 7, 2013 8:12 AM CST
The space shuttle was not named Atlantic, but rather Atlantis like the mythical city.
Nov 7, 2013 2:26 AM CST
FFS! Are they gonna do the longest Russian dance with a that torch too?