Before reaching its final destination at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, the Olympic torch will be taking a detour. The next stop on its route to Sochi is the International Space Station.
The Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the torch lifted off Thursday morning from Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. And on Saturday, boldly going where no torch has gone before, the Olympic torch will be taking its very first spacewalk.
While this marks the first time the Olympic torch will be taken outside the space craft, it is not the first time for one to go into orbit. On the torch’s way to the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, it was taken aboard the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis.
Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin, NASA’s Rick Mastracchio and Japan’s Koichi Wakata are accompanying the torch on its historic journey. For the safety of the passengers, the flame will not be lit during its venture through outer space.
Once safely aboard the International Space Station, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazanskiy have the honor of taking the torch on its walk outside the station. They plan to take video and photos of the torch with Russia, and hopefully Sochi, in the background.
The trip to space is just one of the unique stops the torch is making on the way to its final destination in Sochi. Last month, the flame went to the North Pole via Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker, and next month it will travel to the bottom of the world’s deepest lake, Lake Baikal. Before finishing it’s four-month journey, the torch will also head to the peak of Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Russia and Europe (18,510 feet).
Watch video footage from the space craft launch in Kazakhstan: