Nov 6, 2013, 11:15 PM EDT
We have liftoff.
An Olympic torch blasted into space aboard a Russian rocket in a special part of the Sochi torch relay from Kazakhstan at 11:14 ET on Wednesday night.
NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata took the torch aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket with Sochi 2014 designs.
An Olympic torch has gone into space at least once before. A ceremonial torch went on the space shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station before the 2000 Olympics, but this will be the first time it will go into open space on a spacewalk, scheduled for Saturday.
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy will take the torch as part of a six-hour spacewalk beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET, according to Space.com. It will be tethered to make sure it doesn’t fly away.
The torch will not be lit on the expedition for safety reasons. Photos and video are expected to be made available after the spacewalk.
“We’d like to showcase our Olympic torch in space,” Kotov said, according to Engineering & Technology magazine. “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 how we work.”
UPDATE: The torch reached the International Space Station on Thursday morning.
The torch is expected to return to Earth at 9:50 p.m. ET on Sunday, landing in Kazakhstan.
The crew that will stay at the International Space Station for six months will be able to watch the Olympics (on a delay), according to Interfax.
One of the three Sochi Olympic mascots — a polar bear — was also aboard the rocket:
Here are photos from before the launch:
Apr 18, 2015, 10:03 PM EDT
Katie Ledecky also flirted with a world record.
Apr 18, 2015, 10:17 AM EDT
The U.S. appears to have a better shot in the women’s race.
Apr 18, 2015, 9:09 AM EDT
Phelps has raced against a record-breaking woman before.
Apr 17, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT
“I’m like, Michael, 2016, Rio, 50 free, 100 free, just a relay.”
Apr 17, 2015, 3:06 PM EDT
The finals are at 9 p.m. ET on Universal Sports.
Apr 17, 2015, 11:03 AM EDT
Plushenko wants to compete in a fifth Olympics in 2018.
Apr 17, 2015, 10:29 AM EDT
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Apr 17, 2015, 9:09 AM EDT
“It doesn’t seem like she has served a ban.”
Apr 17, 2015, 8:42 AM EDT
Phelps outdueled Ryan Lochte, but he was slower than last year.
Apr 16, 2015, 3:16 PM EDT
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Apr 16, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
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Apr 16, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT
Canada has a shot to qualify for its first Olympics since 2000.
Apr 16, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT
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Apr 15, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
Phelps discussed his time away from swimming during his suspension.
Apr 15, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT
The video states that the swimming stadium is 58 percent complete.
Apr 15, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
The world’s best all-around swimmer competes in Mesa this week.
Apr 14, 2015, 4:57 PM EDT
Armstrong explained her comeback on social media.
Apr 14, 2015, 3:26 PM EDT
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