The Olympic torch relay for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games has begun a long, strange side trip.
While the official relay continues through Russia, a version of the torch is traveling by nuclear-powered icebreaker to the North Pole. It is expected to arrive at the top of the world -- where it will be used to light a cauldron -- in late October.
“I believe it is extremely symbolic to light the Olympic torch there, since Olympic values have remained unchanged for centuries,” Arthur Chilingarov, a Russian polar explorer, told the RIA Novosti news service.
Next month, a modified, unlighted torch is scheduled for a spacewalk with cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky.
"To take it into open space the object was reworked," said Sergei Krikalev, head of the Cosmonauts' Training Center. "An extra fixing element has been added to attach a tether, just so it doesn't fly away."