2014 Olympic Torch Is Heading To Space
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
The head of Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, signed an agreement with the president of the Organizing Committee for the 2014 Olympics, Dmitry Chernyshenko, to begin the framework of a special project to bring the relay to space. The plan now is to bring the torch into space aboard the International Space Station (ISS) unlit, due to safety regulations.
“We’ve got a rocket fueled by oxygen and kerosene, so there are basic safety rules,” Popovkin said. “There can’t be any naked flames.”
The same torch being brought to space will also be the one that helps light the Olympic flame at the Opening Ceremony on February 7, 2014.
The special “Roscosmos Olympic Torch Relay” will involve delivering the torch for the “Sochi 2014″ Olympics on the ISS and on space walks. This will be the first time the Olympic torch has been brought to space.
The torch will be taken by Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, NASA astronaut Richard Mastracchio and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata aboard the ISS using a Soyuz vehicle. Once on board, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazan will be taking the torch on a spacewalk.
“This is a demonstration of our successes and our achievements and Russians, they should be proud,” Popovkin said. “Today we have added a new page in the history of the Sochi Olympic Games project.”
The torch is one of 14,000 expected to be used during the 40,000-mile journey across the world to Sochi. The Olympic torch marathon will begin on October 7 and will last for more than 100 days. The 2014 torch will also be climbing Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, as well as traveling to the bottom of Lake Baikal and the North Pole.
“Our Olympic torch relay is record-breaking, it will be the most continuous in history and a special project of sending an Olympic torch to the open space will become its highlight,” Chernyshenko said in a statement. “I am sure that the Olympic Torch Relay will be welcomed by a wonderful celebration in every city it visits. For one day during the Relay, each town or settlement that the Olympic Flame visits will become the centre of attention and it will be a unique chance to showcase itself to the whole world”.