The Sochi 2014 Olympic torch was launched into space on Thursday on board a Soyuz TMA-11M rocket.

Exactly one month since the start of its journey across Russia, the torch took off on the rocket which blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

On arrival at the International Space Station, the commander of the ship, cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, will pass the torch to Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazansky, who will take it on a spacewalk on Saturday before it returns to Earth two days later.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Sochi 2014 organising committee, said: "Russia was the first country to send a man into space, and today we are making Olympic history by sending the Olympic torch into space for the first time.

"This feat underlines incredible human capabilities and will symbolise the aspirations of all athletes from around the world to reach new heights in sports."