In this photo provided by Olympictorch2014.com and taken on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, a torch bearer carries the Olympic torch during the torch relay in Norilsk, the world's second largest city inside the Arctic Circle, Russia. The relay for the Sochi Winter Games, which began on Oct. 7, 2013 in Moscow, will pass through many cities that showcase the historical, cultural and ethnic richness of Russia. (AP Photo/Olympictorch2014.com)
MOSCOW — The Sochi Olympic torch has started its first spacewalk.
NASA Live TV showed Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazanskiy carrying the unlit Olympic torch, bobbing weightlessly at the end of a tether in a darkness dotted by stars, outside the International Space Station today.
The torch was launched into space from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday morning. It will return to Earth with a three-man crew on Monday.
The torch will not burn aboard the space outpost because lighting it would consume precious oxygen and pose a threat to the crew.
The Olympic torch was taken aboard the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis in 1996 for the Atlanta Summer Olympics, but this is the first it time it has been taken outside a spacecraft.