Soyuz spacecraft delivers Olympic torch to ISS

Russia's Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft carrying the 38th/39th expedition to the International Space Station and a torch for next year's Sochi Winter Olympic Games has docked with the ISS' Rassvet Small Research Module.

Russia's Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft carrying the 38th/39th expedition to the International Space Station and a torch for next year's Sochi Winter Olympic Games has docked with the ISS' Rassvet Small Research Module.

"The docking mechanism is currently being extended. Following the mechanical docking, pressure levels will be equalized between the spacecraft and the station, the hermetic sealing of the systems will be checked and the crews will open the transfer hatches. It will happen at approximately 4:40 p.m.," a Russian Mission Control Center spokesman told Interfax-AVN.

The Soyuz TMA-11M, which was designed and built by the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, based outside of Moscow, is carrying Mikhail Tyurin (Russia), Rick Mastracchio (the United States) and Koici Wakata (Japan), who will spend the next six months onboard the ISS.

Russia's Fyodor Yurchikhin, Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky, NASA astronauts Karen Nyberg and Michael Hopkins, as well as European astronaut Luca Parmitano are currently working onboard the orbiting outpost.

The hatches between the Soyuz TMA-11M and the ISS will be opened at approximately 4:40 p.m., after which the new crewmembers will be welcomed onboard the ISS, and Tyurin will hand over the Olympic torch to Yurchikhin.

Russian cosmonauts Kotov and Ryazansky will carry out the November 9 spacewalk. They will carry the Olympic torch into space at around 6:36 p.m. on Saturday and will conduct a photo session with it for an hour.

The Olympic torch is expected to be brought back to the Earth on November 11 by Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano, who will leave the ISS onboard the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft.

Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee President Dmitry Chernyshenko said earlier that "this is the torch that will be used to light the Olympic cauldron in Sochi."

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