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Russia: Cosmonauts may carry Olympic torch on spacewalk

Part of the Winter 2014 Olympic torch relay could take place outside the International Space Station.


PHOTO ILLUSTRATION. GlobalPost/Getty Images

While the Olympic Games are billed as a coming together of the world’s nations to celebrate our shared athleticism, they often devolve into a straight-up competition between countries to see which can win the most medals, wear the coolest national costumes or, if you’re the host country, throw the best party.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a well-known alpha male, so expect impressive ceremonies when Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, on the Black Sea coast.

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The Russians’ first task: outdoing previous Olympic torch relays, some of which have ended with flaming arrows or flying athletes lighting the Olympic flame.

Space.com reports that Russian officials are considering making a spacewalk outside the International Space Station part of their Olympic torch relay.

Just sending the torch into space would be a bit of a yawn — that was already done in 1996, when the Space Shuttle Columbia carried an unlit torch into orbit which was later used in the torch relay back on Earth.

In order to do the spacewalk, Russia’s ISS partners, including NASA, will need to agree to rescheduling a planned Nov. 25 trip to the space station so it’s three weeks earlier. That will allow the Olympic torch to be carried in space by cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky, for a return to Earth on Nov. 11, Nasaspaceflight.com reported.

Officials cautioned that the idea is still at the planning stages.

“No decision has been made so far whether an imitation of the Olympic flame or a torch without fire would be moved into outer space," a source in Russia's rocket industry told the Interfax-AVN news service, according to Space.com. "No member of the state commission will assume responsibility for moving an open flame close to the Soyuz spacecraft or the ISS.”

So, in the end, Russia's Olympic torch ambitions may only live in our imaginations. Until then, we're dreaming big.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/130425/russia-cosmonauts-may-carry-olympic-torch-spacewalk