Sochi Olympic torch docks with ISS ready for first space walk

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The Olympic torch has been delivered to the International Space Station ready for its first- ever space walk ahead of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Less than six hours after the Soyuz rocket took off from Kazakhstan, the three-man crew linked up successfully with their colleagues aboard the ISS, carrying the torch which is decorated with a Sochi 2014 logo and a colourful snowflake design.

For obvious safety reasons the torch will not be lit. It could be a relief for Russia as the flame has gone out several times since the relay began last month.

It is the third time the Olympic torch has travelled into space: Olympic torches were brought along on US space shuttle voyages before the 1996 and 2000 Games.

But it has never been on a space walk before. That is due to happen on Saturday, when the flameless object will be taken outside the airlock by two Russian cosmonauts 400 kilometres above Earth.

Conscious that its weightlessness may cause problems, Russian engineers have attached a tether to prevent the torch from floating away.

The torch is to be returned to Earth on Monday to continue a 65,000-km relay culminating with the start of the Olympics in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on February 7.

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