Science News

Longest Ever Golf Shot

Sun, 3rd Dec 2006

Part of the show Naked Science Q&A and Polonium Poisoning

Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin has just hit the longest golf shot ever. He did have a slight advantage over Tiger Woods though, as he was 390 km up and travelling at 7.7 km per second outside the International Space Station. The whole stunt was sponsored by a Canadian golfing company who paid the Russian space agency an undisclosed fee for the publicity and supplied a gold plated golf club for Tyurin to use. Unfortunately for Tyurin, despite being very well qualified for space walking, he'd only ever played golf twice. The pressure of being tethered to the space station and only holding the club with one hand due to the bulk of the space suit meant he sliced the shot off to his right. The shot was supposed to be sent backwards, ensuring that it quickly descended and burnt up in the Earth's atmosphere. NASA scientists have analyzed the trajectory of the sliced shot from video footage and estimate that it would have burned up on re-entry in 2-3 days after travelling about a million miles. As it happened, scientists had expected the shot to be less than accurate so had provided a super lightweight golf ball to ensure no damage would be done if it hit any space station structures. But the spacewalk was not just about a golf gimmick. While outside Tyurin and his partner Lopez-Alegria also moved an external antenna and attempted to release a jammed antenna on a docked supply ship.


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