Today’s the day for space golf

A Russian cosmonaut will make the longest golf drive in history today when he tees off in space. Mikhail Tyurin will hit up to three golf balls during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Wednesday.

Alan Shepard makes a swingBecause his spacesuit is so bulky he will have to make his swing one-handed for the first Interstellar Open, 220 miles above the Earth.

The special gold-plated balls are expected to fly into orbit for up to three days before they fall into the atmophere and burn up as an unusual meteor shower.

Tyurin, 46, was coached by two of the world’s leading experts, Rick Martino and Carol Mann, before he began his tour of duty in space.

He will use a specially-made, lightweight six-iron in the stunt which the Russian space agency agreed with Canadian golf company Element 21 which is launching new lightweight clubs.

Regular readers will recall, I first wrote about this stunt way back in February. At that time, a member of the last ISS crew, Pavel Vinogradov, was scheduled to perform it.

Nasa were worried at first about the stunt but safety officials have been assured there is no danger of the space station being hit.

Tyurin will hit the balls away from the orbiting outpost as he and Nasa colleague Mike Lopez-Alegria begin a six-hour spacewalk.

Instead of a normal tee, the ball will sit in a wire nest to stop it drifting away. Lopex-Alegria may have to hold his colleague’s legs to stop him from floating off too.

The shot will not be the first extra-terrestrial game of golf. In 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard ended a Moon walk by driving two balls for hundreds of yards across the lunar surface. You can watch a video of that historic moment here. The picture is a grab from that video and shows Shepard taking a swing.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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