[Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov with Olympic torch on a spacewalk]
MOSCOW, (Xinhua): Two Russian cosmonauts took an Olympic torch on a spacewalk Saturday for the first time in history as part of the Sochi 2014 torch relay.
The torch, unlit for safety reasons, was taken out from the capsule of the International Space Station (ISS) at around 1450 GMT on Saturday by Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy, according to live coverage of the event by Russian state television.
Ryazanskiy, who was first to step out of the ISS, adjusted two video cameras on a hatch and took photos of his colleague Kotov, when he went out of the Pirs docking module with the Olympic torch in hand.
Later, Kotov handed the torch to Ryazanskiy and they took turns posing with it for dramatic shots with the station, the blackness of outer space and the blue-and-white orb of Earth as backdrops.
“All is done according to schedule,” the Mission Control Center reported later after they connected with the cosmonauts.
The torch will stay at the orbital station for another two days. It is due to be brought back to Earth by Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, U.S. astronaut Karen Nyberg and Italian Luca Parmitano, of the European Space Agency, who will depart the ISS on board the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft on Monday.
According to Russian officials, the “space” torch will be used to lit the main Olympic flame during the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics on Feb. 7.
Although Olympic torches have been taken into space twice previously, in 1996 and 2000, the Sochi torch is now the first to be taken out for a spacewalk.
The 22nd Winter Olympic Games, the first time to be held in Russia, are slated for Feb. 7-23 in the North Caucasus city of Sochi.