An Olympic torch for the Sochi games was launched aboard a Soyuz rocket Wednesday in Kazakhstan, on its way to the International Space Station. Also aboard the rocket are NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The plan for the torch is that it be carried on a spacewalk by current ISS cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy on November 9.
The Olympic torch will return to Earth on Nov. 10, along with three astronauts currently on board the ISS: Karen Nyberg, Luca Parmitano and Fyodor Yurchikhin.
This year's torch relay is the longest in Olympic history. The 123-day journey, which crisscrosses Russia, will cover more than 40,000 miles and involve more than 14,000 torchbearers.
The torch, however, is not carrying the Olympic Flame. That would be too dangerous for space travel.
(Image credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA)