(QHA) - A torch for the Sochi Winter Olympics has blasted blast off into space - as part of efforts to showcase next year's games in Russia, according to BBC. A Soyuz rocket is delivering the torch to the International Space Station. The Soyuz rocket blasted off at 04:14:25 GMT from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Three cosmonauts - Russia's Mikhail Tyurin, American Rick Mastracchio and Koici Wakata from Japan - are taking the torch to the ISS, which it is due to reach in six hours. As reported, the Olympic torch has been carried into space twice before - in 1996 and 2000 - but it has never left a spaceship. The Sochi torch will then be returned to earth and used to light the Olympic cauldron in February next year. It is all part of the elaborate preparations for Russia's first Olympics since the Soviet era. It is also the acmost expensive one so far, costing around $50bn.

QHA