The newest space race is on. A top Russian official revealed on Wednesday that the nation is thinking about sending the 2014 Olympic flame to the International Space Station.
There are no immediate plans to lift the flame into space, but the deputy head of Russia's Federal Space Agency said it's an "interesting" concept that requires further study. He said his agency is open to the idea if Olympic officials express a desire to become the first nation ever to send the flame into orbit.
"It is not a bad idea," Vitaly Davydov, deputy head of Russia's Federal Space Agency, said.
He's right. It's not a bad idea, it's a really, really bad idea.
Putting the flame into space would be undeniably cool and would garner worldwide attention to the Olympic torch relay, which usually takes a terrestrial trek throughout the globe. The cost, logistics and possibility for catastrophic error far outweigh any novelty.
I mean, it's a fire in space. If something goes wrong it's not like the astronauts can open a window to let out the smoke or whip out their cell phones to call 911 (or 112 in Russia). Any device that would allow the flame to go into space would likely not expose an open flame to the spacecraft, but why even risk it?
There have been fires inside orbiting spacecraft before, most notably in 1997 when a fire caused by malfunctioning equipment burned for 90 seconds and exposed astronauts on the space station to heavy smoke for seven minutes.
- Federal Space Agency