MOSCOW (AP) - A rocket carrying the Olympic flame has successfully blasted off from earth ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

NASA Live TV showed the rocket's successful launch from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early on Thursday. The torch will make its way to the International Space Station before being taken into space itself - making it the Olympic flame's first spacewalk in history.

Russia's Mikhail Tyurin, NASA's Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata of Japan carried the torch, which will remain unlit throughout the flight for safety reasons, onto the rocket, which was emblazoned with the pale blue Sochi 2014 logo.

The torch will return to earth on Monday, and will travel across Russia before being used to light the Olympic flame at Sochi's stadium on Feb. 7

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