Moscow: A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying an Olympic torch for the Sochi Winter Games blasted off Thursday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, authorities said.
Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft was launched at 08:14 Moscow time and separated from the carrier rocket nine minutes later before entering the desired orbit, reports Xinhua.
The Sochi 2014 torch will be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) by the crew.
The spacecraft is expected to dock with the ISS at 14:00 Moscow time. Three cosmonauts, Russian Mikhail Tyurin, NASA astronaut Richard Mastracchio and astronaut of the Japanese Space Agency JAXA Koichi Wakata, will join six others on the ISS.
The torch will be taken on a short spacewalk Saturday by Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy before being taken back to Earth later.
Flying the torch to the ISS is part of the 123-day relay, which covers Russia`s 83 regions spanning 132 cities.
The 22nd Winter Games are slated for Feb 7-23, 2014 with 98 events to be contested.