A Russian cosmonaut will make the longest golf drive ever when he hits a shot on a spacewalk outside the international space station.
But Pavel Vinogradov won’t score a black hole-in-one or hit a bunker on the moon when he leaves the celestial clubhouse.
Instead he will send the ball flying into orbit around the Earth for up to four years before it burns up in the atmosphere.
The stunt – part of a publicity campaign for a golfing company – has caused consternation at space station partners Nasa.
They fear the shot could damage the space station’s fragile solar panels that power it.
And some believe the ball, flying at six miles a second, would become a deadly missile threatening to hit the space station like a bullet on future orbits.
A cosmonaut has already practised the shot on the ground. And Vinogradov is confident he can perform it without danger to the space station or astronauts during one of his spacewalks in September.
A special tee to hold the ball in the weightlessness of space has been built for the shot which Vinogradov will make with a six-iron drive.
It will be attached to a Russian section of the station.
His gold-plated club has been forged from the same material as the orbiting outpost.
The golf stunt was agreed between the Russian space agency and Canadian golf company Element 21.
A Nasa spokesman said yesterday: “We know about what they would like to do and are actively gathering data to do the proper analysis to make sure the crew and station itself will be safe.”
The shot will not be the first extra-terrestrial game of golf. In 1971, Apollo astronaut Alan Shephard ended a Moon walk by driving two balls for miles across the lunar surface.
© Paul Sutherland. Unauthorised reproduction forbidden.
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