Russia sends Olympic torch, 3 astronauts to ISS

Russia sends Olympic torch, 3 astronauts to ISS

Russia launched a Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts and the Olympic torch to the International Space Station on Thursday.

The torch, unlit for safety reasons, was part of the payload of a Soyuz spacecraft that lifted off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.

Crew members Mikhail Tyurin of Russia, Rick Mastracchio of the United States and Koichi Wakata of Japan are to arrive after a six-hour flight at the orbiting outpost 250 miles above Earth.

Two Russian cosmonauts are expected to take the Olympic torch on a space walk Saturday. Itโ€™ll be the first time an Olympic torch is carried into open space. The torch is expected to be returned to Earth on Monday.

Photo: International Space Station crew members, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata (top) and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, board the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft with the torch of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games at the Baikonur cosmodrome Nov. 7, 2013. (Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters)