A Russian space capsule carrying the Sochi Olympic torch and three astronauts has returned to Earth from the International Space Station this morning, landing in Kazakhstan.
Mission commander Yurchikhin was extracted from the capsule within about 10 minutes of touchdown and carried to a reclining chair, where he was put under a blanket against the cold and began adjusting to the pull of gravity after 166 days of weightlessness.
The torch, in a protective bag, was brought out and given to Yurchikhin to hold after it was unwrapped. He waved it a little and smiled.
The Sochi Winter Olympic flame has landed back on Earth after making its historic journey into the cosmos on the Soyuz space capsule.
After undocking late last night, it arrived in Kazakhstan early this morning.
The historic journey of the Sochi Olympic torch has blasted off to a successful start, as the three person crew lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Russia this morning.
The flame will be taken on a space walk this Saturday, in an Olympic and cosmic first.
The flame will not be lit in space, and will not burn inside the capsule of the International Space Station either for the sake of the safety of its crew, and to avoid wasting oxygen.
Russia's plans for the first ever Olympic flame space walk have raised some safety concerns, NBC reports.
The "torch handover" space walk spectacle is planned for this Saturday, has added to the workload and scheduling requirements of the space station managers on the International Space Station as the station will have three crewed Soyuz ferry ships docked at the station at the same time.
According to NBC, this has only ever happened once before, four years ago, and after that experience a decision to never do it again was taken by authorities.
The Sochi Olympic torch has successfully blasted off into space on board a Soyuz rocket, ready to take its first space walk on the International Space Station.
For safety reasons the torch will not be lit during the launch, but once on board the space station Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky are planning to take it outside the airlock, in what they described as a "spectacular" showcase for the Winter Games.
The Olympic torch has gone into space twice before, in 1996 and 2000, but it has never been taken on a space walk.