Rocket ready to take Sochi Olympic torch to International Space Station (photos)

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All systems appear to be go for the first Olympic torch spacewalk.

The Sochi Olympic torch will embark on a mission to outer space from Kazakhstan on a Russian Soyuz rocket with Sochi 2014 designs on Wednesday night (Eastern Time). The spacecraft was set on a launch pad on Tuesday, according to RIA Novosti.

Video of the torch being readied is available here.

NASA will provide a live stream of the launch, scheduled for Wednesday at 11:14 p.m. ET. The broadcast will begin at 10:15 and run through 11:45. NASA’s website directs to this link for live streaming video.

The Toshiba Vision screen in New York’s Times Square will also broadcast the stream live Wednesday night.

Russian cosmonauts at the International Space Station will take the torch, without a flame for safety reasons, into open space on Saturday, according to The Associated Press. Video and photos are expected to be taken of the spacewalk.

The Olympic torch flew into space before, in 1996 on the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but it has never been taken outside a spacecraft, according to the AP.

The torch is expected to return to Earth on Monday, landing in Kazakhstan.

Here are photos of the spacecraft:

source: Getty Images
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source: Getty Images
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source: AP
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source: AP
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source: Reuters
Reuters
source: Getty Images
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source: Getty Images
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Journalist says Olympic flame has gone out at least 44 times on torch relay

USA Hockey to start reaching out to potential replacement players

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USA Hockey will begin reaching out to “alternate players” to determine their interest in playing for the U.S. at the women’s world championship next week amid a potential boycott by its national team.

The contact is taking place in the event a resolution cannot be reached between USA Hockey and the women’s national team in a wage dispute.

“It’s important for everyone to understand clearly that our objective is to have the players we named as the U.S. women’s national team be the ones that compete in the world championship,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, in a statement. “Productive conversations have taken place this week and are ongoing in our collective efforts to reach a resolution.”

The alternate players are in the professional NWHL and college, according to USA Today.

The world championship tournament starts March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.

As of Thursday evening, no resolution has come between USA Hockey and its women’s national team. Neither side has said when its next scheduled meeting will take place.

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MORE: NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

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International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel tells The Associated Press he needs to know by the end of April whether NHL players will be cleared to play in the South Korea Olympics next year.

NHL team owners have made it clear they don’t want to stop their season again for the Winter Games and put their stars at risk of injury. The reluctance has come up before and yet the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998. This time, however, there seems to be an impasse.

The head of the NHL Players Association, Donald Fehr, says the players want to participate and hopes the league will take advantage of the chance to market the game in Asia.

However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says without “material change to the current status quo, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

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MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups set