MOSCOW, November 9 (RIA Novosti) – Two Russian cosmonauts ventured Saturday outside the International Space Station taking a symbolic Olympic torch on its first spacewalk in history.
The airlock on the Pirs module of the ISS opened at about 06:40 pm Moscow time (14:40 GMT) allowing Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky to float out from the station for an hour-long photo and video session with the unlit Sochi 2014 Olympic torch as part of an almost six-hour scheduled maintenance spacewalk.
Rossiya 24 television and NASA Live TV showed one of the most memorable events in history in a live broadcast from the ISS.
The initial camera views captured Kotov waving the torch against the backdrop of blue-and-white orb of the Earth. Cosmonauts then carefully passed the torch to one another, making sure that the rarity item is safely secured to their spacesuits.
According to Russian commentators, the Olympic symbol “was moving through the blackness of outer space 350 kilometers [217 miles] above the Earth with a speed of about 8 kilometers per second.”
After the torch relay in space, the cosmonauts continued performing scheduled tasks in line with the program of the spacewalk, which includes some maintenance work and preparation for the arrival of a Russian multirole laboratory module to the ISS.
The torch will stay at the orbital station for another two days. It is due to be brought back to Earth by Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano, who will depart the ISS on board the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft on November 11.
The “space” torch will be used to lit the main Olympic flame during the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 7, according to Russian officials.
Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay
Down on Earth, the Olympic flame arrived on Saturday in Sakha’s capital city of Yakutsk – 4,900 kilometers (3,100 miles) east of Moscow – where it will be transported by dog and reindeer sleighs.
The torch relay for the February 7-23 Sochi Games started on Moscow’s Red Square in Moscow on October 7. The four-month event takes in all of Russia’s 83 regions on its 56,000-kilometer (35,440 mile) trip, making it the longest in the history of the Olympics.
Updates with details, minor rewrites.