William Harwood, CBS News
In a scene the ancient Greeks could never have imagined, two Russian
cosmonauts plan to carry an unlighted Olympic torch outside the
International Space Station Saturday, staging a symbolic spacewalk relay
as part of the build up to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
TMA-10M commander Oleg Kotov and flight engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy plan
to open the hatch of the Russian Pirs airlock compartment around 9:30
a.m. EST (GMT-5) Saturday.
"We will take a picture of it
with the space station in the background, with the Earth in the
background," Kotov said in a NASA interview. "I think these will be very
interesting videos and pictures that will be used to promote the
Said Ryazanskiy: "Unfortunately we cannot light it in space, so we
will simply take it to space and take pictures and some video with the
station and the Earth in the background. It will be a real Olympic
torch. ... I think it will be the last torch that will be lit during the
Sochi Olympics relay."
To make the orbital photo op possible,
Russian mission managers had to juggle the space station crew rotation
schedule. Normally, only two three-seat Soyuz ferry craft are attached
to the station at any one time, supporting a crew of six for overlapping
six-month tours of duty.
To get the torch up to the lab
and then quickly back down to Earth, a Soyuz launch was moved up to get
nine people on the station -- and three Soyuz spacecraft -- at the same
Soyuz TMA-11M commander Mikhail Tyurin, Rick Mastracchio and Soichi Wakata arrived early Thursday, bringing the Olympic torch with them.
Welcoming them aboard were Soyuz TMA-10M commander Kotov, Michael
Hopkins and Ryazanskiy, launched Sept. 25, and Soyuz TMA-09M commander
Yurchikhin, flight engineer Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg, who were
launched May 28 and are closing out a long-duration stay in space.
After the spacewalk Saturday by Kotov and Ryazanskiy, the torch will
be handed off to Yurchikhin's crew for return to Earth Sunday night
aboard the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft. After landing near Dzhezkazgan,
Kazakhstan, expected around 9:49 p.m. EST, the torch will be handed back
to Olympic organizers.
The space relay began when Tyurin
floated into the station Thursday. He promptly presented the torch to
Yurchikhin, who told reporters today the entire crew took part in a
symbolic torch relay inside the lab complex.
carried the torch through Japan's Kibo laboratory module, handing it off
to Parmitano, a European Space Agency astronaut, who carried it through
ESA's Columbus module. Hopkins, Nyberg and Mastracchio then carried the
torch through the U.S. segment of the station, handing it off to
Tyurin, then Ryazanskiy, then Kotov and finally Yurchikhin, who "secured
it in the Russian segment in a special place."
spacewalk will be the 174th since station assembly began in 1998, the
eighth so far this year, the fourth for Kotov and the first for
Using the call sign EV-2, Ryazanskiy will float out of the airlock
first, carrying a tethered holder for the torch and commercial Go-Pro
cameras to record proprietary video of the torch for Olympic organizers
Tyurin will shoot video and take proprietary
pictures from inside the multi-window cupola compartment. While that
footage will not be seen in real time, NASA will broadcast live views
from its own cameras throughout the spacewalk.
EV-1, will hold the torch in the open hatch of the Pirs module while
Ryazanskiy takes pictures and mounts cameras on a spacewalk ladder to
record the scene. Tyurin then will float outside, make his way to the
ladder where he will meet up with his crewmate.
cosmonauts then will pose for the cameras and Kotov will hand the torch
off to Ryazanskiy. Both men then will turn to face a NASA camera, carry
out another handoff and pose for more pictures and video.
The torch then will be carried to yet one more location for an
additional handoff and additional pictures before being returned to the
airlock and safely stored away.
"We are going to move
along outside the Russian segment and we will be symbolically handing
over the torch from one crew member to the other," Kotov told reporters
Friday. "We will repeat that a couple or three times to make sure we
will have a pretty picture to show the whole world.
country will see the torch in a nice way, with the background of the
Earth and black space. ... So it is sort of a creative task. It is
technically challenging and we hope for success."
and Ryazanskiy then will turn their attention to the more routine
aspects of the spacewalk, moving a foot restraint needed for an upcoming
spacewalk and finishing up work on a camera mounting platform that will
be used by a Canadian company, Urthecast, to stream high definition
Earth views to subscribers around the world. The camera is scheduled for
installation during a Dec. 23 spacewalk.
A final task involves disconnecting a plasma wave experiment and
securing it in place. If time is available, the cosmonauts will carry
out an inspection of insulation on the hull of the station.
said the orbital torch relay was the result of joint talks between
Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, and the Olympic Committee.
Olympic torch will be traveling all over Russia," he said. "They will
also take it to the bottom of the deepest lake on Earth, Lake Baikal.
Then it will be raised to the highest Elbrus mountain. So why the
station? Why not?"