The 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter games torch has reached the International Space Station. Launched along with a three-man crew, the torch will also be taken on a space walk before returning to Earth.
The torch, unlit for safety reasons, arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) Thursday along with the astronauts after a six-hour flight. The ISS is positioned 450 kilometers (270 miles) above Earth.
The Soyuz FG rocket and the Soyuz-TMA capsule launched successfully from Baikonur cosmodrome at 8:14 a.m. Moscow time (0414 UTC).
Before liftoff, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio of the US climbed into the capsule carrying the torch, along with crew members Mikhail Tyurin of Russia and Koichi Wakata of Japan.
A colorful snowflake design and 2014 Sochi Winter games logo decorated the outside of the shuttle.
Two Russian cosmonauts who are already on board the ISS are scheduled to take the torch for a space walk on Saturday - the first time an Olympic torch will be carried into open space.
Torches were aboard US space shuttle voyages before the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
The torch will make its way back to Earth on Monday to continue a 65,000-kilometer relay before the beginning of the games in the Black Sea city of Sochi on February 7 next year.
jlw/mkg (dpa, AFP, AP)