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Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 3:00am

Olympic Torch (But Not Olympic Flame) Headed To Space

Updated: 1 year ago.
Former cosmonaut Alexey Leonov, left, the first man to perform a spacewalk, passed an Olympic torch to Mikhail Tyurin, who will lead the mission to the International Space Station in November.

The president of Russia's Sochi 2014 Olympic Committee could hardly contain himself although Twitter contained him to 140 characters at a time:

"Our ambition to conquer Space 1st time ever in the Olympic history becomes reality," Dmitry Chernyshenko tweeted Monday. "#Sochi2014's Torch Relay will reach the open space!"

In a series of tweets, Chernyshenko announced that cosmonauts will carry an official Sochi 2014 Olympic torch to the International Space Station, and then out on a spacewalk.

Cosmonauts will take the torch to the space station in early November. But, as AroundTheRings reporter Mark Bisson tweets, the torch will not hold the sacred Olympic flame, which is traditionally ignited by a Greek high priestess (actually an actor), using the rays of the sun at Mt. Olympus.

Bisson says that an "imitation flame" will go to the International Space Station.

That's because an open flame in a spaceship could be, well, dangerous. Still, once back on earth at the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics in February, the space torch will be all fired up.

"The same torch that will go to the open space afterwards will be used to light the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the Games," says Chernyshenko, who seemingly could not be happier about the development.

"Nothing is impossible... #Sochi2014 is going to the Space :-) Let's Go - Po-ekhali!" he tweeted today, including a photo of himself in a spacesuit.

"Nothing is impossible," except, of course, keeping an open flame in a spacecraft for a long period of time.

But, given a Winter Olympics at a Black Sea resort with palm trees and expected Olympic spending of around $51 billion, almost nothing seems impossible.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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