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Olympic torch travels to space with astronauts


The torch to be used during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia is on its way to the International Space Station

AP11_7_2013_000004BWashington: The torch to be used during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia is on its way to the International Space Station, marking an out-of-this-world ‘photo op’ to herald the upcoming sporting event.

However, for safety reasons, the torch will not be lit.

Three crew members on board a Russian Soyuz, representing the US, Russia and Japan, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, yesterday.

NASA Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio, Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency took with them the Olympic torch that will be used to light the Olympic flame at Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, to mark the start of the 2014 Winter Games.

The arrival of Mastracchio, Tyurin and Wakata brings the station’s crew complement to nine. This is the first time since October 2009 that nine people have served together aboard the space station, NASA said.

The crew will return to its normal complement of six on November 10, when Expedition 37 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, Karen Nyberg of NASA, and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency return to Earth.

After their departure, Expedition 38 will begin with Oleg Kotov of Roscosmos, who already is aboard, at the helm.    Some of the cargo flown aboard the Soyuz will be used in ongoing or planned research investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory, the US space agency said.

The cargo includes questionnaires for a space headaches investigation that crew members will complete to provide in-flight data about the prevalence and characteristics of headaches they may experience in micro-gravity.

Other cargo includes hardware for an investigation looking at the impact of space travel on the immune system and on human microbiomes, which are microbes living in and on the human body.

Another delivery will contribute to an investigation known as Sarcolab, which studies the skeletal muscle fibres of station crew members.


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