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Sochi 2014: Olympic torch goes into space

Updated 6:44 AM ET, Thu November 14, 2013
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The Olympic torch has left Earth as part of its 123-day journey across Russia, which will end at the Black Sea resort of Sochi -- host venue for the 2014 Winter Games. The rocket was launched at 8:14 a.m. local time Thursday November 7 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which is a Russian-leased facility. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images
"This feat underlines incredible human capabilities and will symbolize the aspirations of all athletes from around the world to reach new heights in sports," Sochi 2014 organizing committee president Dmitry Chernyshenko said in a statement. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images
Cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin will hand the torch to Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazansky, who will take it on an historic spacewalk on November 9. The torch, along with the cosmonauts, will spend a total of four hours in outer space. Kotov and Ryazansky have already been in low Earth orbit for more than a month. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images
This NASA photo, a two-minute exposure, shows the early moments of the torch's journey into outer space. The Sochi 2014 torch is the third to do so, after the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Summer Games, but is the first to go on a spacewalk. Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images
Earlier Thursday, the Soyuz-FG rocket and Soyuz-TMA capsule sat in wait at the Baikonur Cosmodrome ahead of the torch's journey to the International Space Station (ISS). SHAMIL ZHUMATOV/AFP/Getty Images
Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata bid farewell to his family prior to liftoff. Wakata, Russian commander Tyurin and U.S. astronaut Rick Mastracchio accompanied the torch on its journey. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images
Russian cosmonaut Tyurin holds the torch aloft before boarding the rocket. For safety reasons, the torch will stay unlit aboard the rocket and the ISS. If lit, the torch would burn up precious oxygen. SHAMIL ZHUMATOV/AFP/Getty Images
A view of the Soyuz rocket, which is emblazoned with the Olympic logo and Sochi 2014 livery. SHAMIL ZHUMATOV/AFP/Getty Images
A crowd of hundreds of people watched the launch in Tokyo, Japan. The country's astronaut Koichi Wakata became the first Japanese commander of the ISS on this trip. TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images
Once it has completed its spacewalk, the torch will return to Earth and continue a journey which will end with the lighting of the Sochi 2014 Olympic cauldron on February 7. It is scheduled to return to Earth on November 11 before continuing its 65,000-kilometer trip, which will include a voyage underwater in Lake Baikal and a climb to the top of Europe's highest peak, Mount Eblrus. Last month, it went to the North Pole. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images