To Infinity and Beyond: Photos and Video of the Olympic Torch’s First Spacewalk


In the history of mankind, the Olympic torch has made its way up to space a total of two times: once in 1996 and another time in 2000. Now we can add another year to that list: 2013 — only this one is even more special, because for the first time in history, the Olympic torch actually went out on its very own spacewalk.

The trip began November 7th when the three astronauts of Expedition 38 — Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA — took off to the International Space Station with a torch in tow.

With the exception of a tether, this torch is no different from the 14,000 torches that are currently being used to complete the traditional Earth-bound relay, but that tether was important (no, seriously, you really need a tether).

The tether was important because, on Saturday morning, for the first time ever, Russian Cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy got to take the Olympic torch out into space for an hour-long spacewalk/photo shoot.

But why tell you all this when you can see it for yourself? Below you’ll find photos of the Expedition 38 press conference and takeoff by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls, as well as a short NASA TV video of the torch’s jaunt in space.









Now that the torch has seen its 15 minutes (or more like 60) of fame out in space, it will be returning right back to Earth. The Expedition 37 crew will bring the torch back to Earth with them on Monday, after which they will hand it over to the Olympic committee for use in the Sochi opening ceremony on February 7th.

To see more photos from Expedition 38, be sure to head over to NASA’s Flickr account.
And if you’d like some screenshot highlights from the video above, has put a few of those together for you here.

(via Engadget and DPReview)

Image credits: Photographs by NASA/Bill Ingalls

  • Astro

    Soyuz, the most reliable shuttle.

  • lidocaineus

    It’s not a shuttle. It’s a reusable spacecraft made of three modules, two of which are one time use only and destroyed every time it launches.

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  • Oreally

    Keep in mind that by definition Shuttle didn’t qualified as one because a shuttle is a form of transport that travels regularly between two places, so yes, Soyuz spacecrafts are shuttles, but anyway if they are not shuttles then what they’re? Ferries?

  • lidocaineus

    The Shuttle was the informal name that pretty much everyone used to refer to the NASA spacecraft known as the Space Transportation System. It encompasses the Orbiter, the SRBs, and the external tank. It’s the same reason we refer the Soyuz as… the Soyuz; it’s a convenient way to refer to all three of its modules. Same thing with the Apollo spacecraft; you don’t refer to it by it’s modules, you call it… the Apollo (which was also semi-reusable, like Soyuz, and the upcoming Orion).

    Yes, they all “shuttle” people and objects back and forth, but no one refers to them that way. The Shuttle refers to something specific. You refer to all of them as reusable spacecraft.

  • Pedro Andres Barba

    how is the torch lit in while the space walk if theres no oxigen to burn?

  • Again

    If you know the difference between shuttle and Shuttle then why try to deny the fact?

    You explanation is not correct, in the case of Soyuz both the rocket and the manned spacecraft are named Soyuz because that’s the name of the program and the systems.

  • lidocaineus

    In your second paragraph you repeated my thought practically verbatim. Please read what I posted carefully, and then read up on the concept of nomenclature and jargon, both of which apply heavily here, and which I explained.

  • Benicio

    How much did IOC pay for this little bit of publicity?

  • Nick

    How many starving kids did this feed?