Cosmonaut plans a golf shot in space

Iran Materials 22 November 2006 13:57 (UTC +04:00)
Cosmonaut plans a golf shot in space

(earthtimes.org) - It will be a game of golf for Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin aboard the International Space Station as he plans a spacewalk Wednesday.

He is expected to hit a golf ball from 220 miles above the Earth using special club as he begins the spacewalk. The light weight ball will be placed on the top of the Russian docking port and he will have to swing the club with one hand as the spacesuit is too heavy for a two-handed grip, reports Trend.

The balls will be enclosed in a wire nest to stop them from drifting away and they are expected to orbit the earth for three days.

The space golf is part of Russian space agency's search for commercial returns, for Canada-based golf club maker Element 21 Golf Co. is paying the Russians an undisclosed sum for the exercise. Federal laws prohibit the U.S. space agency from deriving any material benefit for its involvement.

NASA has been preparing the golf shots for the last four months as safety experts wanted to select the best flight path for the ball to ensure it would not return and hit the space station as an orbiting debris.

The ball weighs just 0.16 ounces unlike the usual 1.6 ounces and Tyurin will only tap the ball with the club and not smack it.

The entire sequence will be filmed by station commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, who will go with Tyurin on the spacewalk. The video clip will be shown later as part of a TV commercial.

According to NASA scientists, the ball is expected to come into earth's atmosphere and will be burnt within three days.

Tyurin's shot will not, however, be the first golf shot in the space. At the time of Apollo 14 moon mission in 1971, U.S. astronaut Alan Shepard had ended the moon walk with driving two golf balls for hundreds of yards across the lunar space.

Besides golf, the two spacewalkers have some serious business too to handle. They will check out an antenna on the Russian spacecraft Progress, which appeared to fail when the supply ship docked at the space station in October.

The Russian Space Agency is short of cash and it is marketing space -- for now for advertising and space tourism. The agency had sent Anousheh Ansari, who spent $20 million for a ride on a Soyuz to the space station.