(ATR) Sochi 2014 confirms that the Olympic Torch will head to space.
In a deal announced Monday, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) signed an agreement with Sochi 2014 to take the Olympic torch to the International Space Station (ISS). For safety reasons it won’t be lit.
The Olympic Torch will travel to the ISS on the Soyuz TMA-11M manned spaceship at the start of November. Once in space, Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryazansky and Oleg Kotov will take the Olympic torch on a spacewalk.
"The space journey of Sochi 2014 torch will take place on Nov. 7-11. In one of this [sic] days it'll go to outer space," Sochi 2014 CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko tweeted today.
In an official statement, he added: "Nobody has done this before. The spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts with the Sochi 2014 Olympic torch will be an historic moment in the history of the Olympic Torch Relay.
"I want to thank the Federal Space Agency for its support which will enable us to take the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay to the final frontier."
Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin said the Olympic torch’s in-orbit delivery and spacewalk by the cosmonauts "will be a bright new page in space history".
The Olympic Torch will return to Earth with cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin who is currently based on the ISS.
While based on the ISS in 2007, he and his colleague Oleg Kotov supported the Sochi Olympic bid presentation that was made to the IOC Session in Guatemala.
The Sochi torch relay, the longest in Olympic history, gets under way in the Black Sea resort on Oct. 7, 2013. It will cover more than 65,000km, including by car, train, plane, Russian troika and even reindeer sleigh.
A total of 14,000 torchbearers will carry the Olympic flame through 83 regions across Russia, ending with the lighting of the cauldron at the opening ceremony in Sochi on Feb. 7.
Reported by Mark Bisson.
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