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Russia confirms plans to send Olympic torch into space ahead of 2014 Winter Games in Sochi

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SOCHI, Russia - The Olympic torch has gone underwater at the Great Barrier Reef, flown on the Concorde and even travelled on the back of a camel.

Russia is taking the torch to new heights — space.

As part of a four-month torch relay ahead of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the torch will make its first trip into space using a Soyuz TMA-11M manned spaceship provided by the Russian Federal Space Agency, organizers said Monday.

Once in space, Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryazansky and Oleg Kotov will take the Olympic torch on a spacewalk.

"Nobody has done this before," said Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of Sochi's organizing committee. "The spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts with the Sochi 2014 Olympic torch will be an historic moment in the history of the Olympic torch relay."

The torch will be unlit for safety reasons during its visit to space in November.

"Its in-orbit delivery and the spacewalk by Russian cosmonauts will be a bright new page in space history," said Vladimir Popovkin, head of Russia's space agency.

The torch relay will begin in Sochi on Oct. 7 and cover more than 65,000 kilometres (40,000 miles) via car, train, plane and reindeer sleigh before returning to the southwest Russian city for the opening ceremony on Feb. 7.

Organizers said the relay is the "longest in the entire history of the Olympic Winter Games" and that 90 per cent of the Russian population will be within an hour's reach of the relay route at some time or other.

Sochi is hosting Russia's first-ever Winter Olympics.

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