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:
Aug 21, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
Olympian Kyla Ross struggled.
Aug 21, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
Finals at 5 a.m. ET on Friday.
Aug 21, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT
Olympic champion swimmer posts Instagram videos.
Aug 21, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT
A U.S. Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer hasn’t won individual Olympic gold since 1960.
Aug 21, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT
Four past U.S. all-around champions are in the field in Pittsburgh.
Aug 21, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT
Also, a rare defeat for Olympic pole vault champion.
Aug 21, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Olympic all-around champion says she’ll stay in Columbus through 2016 Olympics.
Aug 21, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
Ledecky nearly broke another world record.
Aug 21, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT
NBA legends channeled; Olympic silver medalist on judging panel.
Aug 21, 2014, 7:49 AM EDT
Ukrainian’s error costs Moldovan teammate a shot at the podium.
Aug 20, 2014, 11:59 PM EDT
U.S. star first suffered back spasms at Tuesday practice.
Aug 20, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT
Defending champion feels no added pressure despite seeing her face all around Pittsburgh.
Aug 20, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT
Would Davis excel in softball if she tried it?
Aug 20, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT
Can Allyson Felix finally topple Tori Bowie?
Aug 20, 2014, 9:23 AM EDT
First medals awarded on an Olympic stage in rugby since 1924.
Aug 20, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT
Lily Zhang scored a breakthrough for U.S. table tennis.
Aug 20, 2014, 8:28 AM EDT
Gold medalists Hannah Moore and Clara Smiddy will go from Nanjing to Ann Arbor.
Aug 20, 2014, 8:04 AM EDT
U.S. vs. Australia in sprint head to head; outlook for Phelps and Lochte.
Aug 20, 2014, 8:04 AM EDT
Will Katie Ledecky be tested?
Aug 20, 2014, 5:34 AM EDT
Phelps’ debut in Australia pushed back to Friday.
- Simone Biles dominates to open P&G Championships 0
- Amy Van Dyken-Rouen stands, walks with assistance for first time since accident (video) 0
- Sam Mikulak leads one of most decorated P&G Championships fields ever 0
- Katie Ledecky wins 2 Pan Pacs titles; Missy Franklin places 3rd 1
- Simone Biles a tall favorite at P&G Championships; women’s preview 0
- Jennie Finch, Lisa Fernandez weigh in on Mo’ne Davis 0
- Pan Pacific Championships men’s events preview 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (56)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (38)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)