Three astronauts returned to Earth today, following a 166-day mission, bringing the Olympic torch back from the International Space Station after a historic space walk. The trip completes the most ambitious leg of Russia’s unparallelled torch relay in the run-up to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi next February.
Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, NASA US astronaut Karen Nyberg and Italian colleague Luca Parmitano, descended in the Soyuz capsule to touch down at 2:49 GMT on the frosty steppes of Kazakhstan.
The torch, kept unlit throughout its space journey due to safety precautions, was securely wrapped during the descent, and an employee of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos took it out of the packaging. The space-travelling torch will be the one which lights the Olympic cauldron in the Black Sea resort Sochi marking the start of the Winter Games on February 7.