On November 07, 2013 at 04:14 UTC the Russian "Soyuz TMA-11M” spacecraft carrying a three-man crew and the Olympic torch for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi was launched from Baykonur Cosmodrome. The space vehicle was orbited by the Russian "Soyuz-FG” rocket-carrier decorated with the symbols of the Sochi Games and the Olympic rings. The spacecraft is piloted by 3 cosmonauts: Commander, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin (center); flight-engineer, American astronaut Richard Mastracchio (right); Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata (left).
Photo by Russian Cosmonaut training center.
The space vehicle is to dock with the International Space Station just after 4 orbits. Tyurin, Mastracchio and Wakata will join current ISS expedition members, Russian cosmonauts Fjodor Yurchikhin, Oleg Kotov, Sergey Ryazanskiy, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, American astronauts Karen Nyberg and Michael Hopkins to form the station’s crew of 9 members (so-called Expedition 37 and a half). The Olympic torch, unlit for safety reasons, will be taken out from the capsule for a spacewalk on November 09 by two Russian cosmonauts who are already on board the ISS. This will be the first time an Olympic torch will have been taken into open space.