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Russian astronauts take Olympic torch to space

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olympic torch space
olympic torch space

The symbolic torch that will be used to light the flame at the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, just completed a two-hour spacewalk that was broadcast live online on NASA TV.

A three-man crew took the torch up to the International Space Station on Thursday. Today, astronauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky tethered the unlit torch to their space suits while doing routine maintenance. The historic spacewalk was recorded using helmet cameras.

The torch, which represents international cooperation, has been carried to space twice before. This was its first time leaving a spaceship, however.

The event was part of Russia's effort to promote the 2014 winter games and portray itself as powerful and modern — especially as has recently been criticized for strict anti-homosexuality attitudes and laws that are seen as backward by many in western countries.

The torch will return to Earth on Sunday.