Russia blasts Winter Olympic torch into orbit

Scenes from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.
Scenes from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. SMP Images

RUSSIA entered into a space race of a different kind on Thursday, blasting a torch for next year's Sochi Winter Olympic Games into orbit.

The unlit torch, which is currently travelling on a Soyuz rocket, is expected to reach the International Space Station by Saturday.

Once there, two Russian cosmonauts will take it on a televised spacewalk.

Organisers of the games, who are still dealing with the fall-out of widespread hostility towards Russia's homophobic laws, reportedly designed the event in the hope of portraying a more modern culture.

In an interview with the BBC, cosmonaut Oleg Kotov said that while the flame would not be lit, he and his team would try and showcase the torch "in a beautiful manner".

It's the first time the Olympic torch has made it out of a spaceship.

After a brief stint above Earth, it will be sent back to light the cauldron at the February games - Russia's first since the end of the Soviet era.

Topics:  international space station russia sochi winter olympics winter olympics

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