It’s not as if I spend every minute of my day hating on the Olympic torch for getting to live a life I could only dream of, just most of them. It travels all over the world getting handled by awesome people, and sets fire without having to worry about getting hurt in the process. And now the torch is on board the International Space Station, and will take a trip out into space this weekend. Lucky bastard. I’m green, and it’s either raging envy, or that infection has spread.
The torch was taken up to the ISS aboard a Soyuz rocket, along with the crew for Expedition 38—American Rick Mastracchio, Russian Mikhail Tyurin, and Japan’s Koichi Wakata—the trio that will spend the next six months orbiting the Earth. It’s current ISS cosmonaut inhabitants Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky, however, who will be in the spotlight when they take the torch out for a spacewalk on Saturday. While this isn’t the flaming wand’s first trip into space, it will be the first time it has been taken out of the spacecraft.
“Our goal here is to make it look spectacular,” said Kotov. “We’d like to showcase our Olympic torch in space. We will try to do it in a beautiful manner. Millions of people will see it live on TV and they will see the station and see how we work.”
That “beautiful manner” won’t have anything to do with fireballs, because they understandably won’t light it, since that would be a danger to everyone, as well as a huge waste of oxygen. I’m pretty sure someone will take the video of the spacewalk and add some digital flames to it anyway. Because fire. Take a peek at the crew and the launch below.
As you can imagine, beyond this stunt working as proof of growing Russian influence and solidarity, it’s also promotional in nature, as the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia. There has been recent controversy over the $50 billion Games due to questionable, to put it mildly, takes on homosexuality and migrant workers. So they get credit for trying to spin things around with something we can all agree on: space is cool. Also, I like a Winter Olympics semi-advert that doesn’t involve figure skating.
The below video is a pretty spectacular time-lapse of the Soyuz rocket as it gets loaded up before blast off.