An Olympic torch went on a spacewalk for the first time on Saturday morning. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy took the torch outside the International Space Station just before 10 a.m. ET, about 261 miles above Earth. “OK, shall we start taking this symbol of partnership and friendship and good competition into space?” one of the cosmonauts said, according to a NASA stream translator.
They handed off the red and silver aluminum torch, which was tethered, from one to the other at 10:14. A commentator on the NASA stream said the International Space Station was orbiting above the northern U.S. and southern Canada and made it to space above Africa by the time the torch spacewalk finished around 10:30.
The torch portion was part of a spacewalk that began at 9:34 a.m. and was scheduled to last about six hours. The torch was unlit for safety reasons. An Olympic torch has reportedly gone to space before — prior to the 1996 and 2000 Olympics — but this marked its first spacewalk.
The torch is expected to return to Earth at 9:50 p.m. ET on Sunday, landing in Kazakhstan. The crew that will stay at the International Space Station for six months will be able to watch the Olympics (on a delay), according to Interfax.
- Nick Zaccardi, NBC Sports