Longest Golf Shot Ready to be Hit

You think that big drive at your club last weekend was a whopper; you haven't seen anything like what will happen from space soon.

A Russian flight engineer aboard the International Space Station will hit a drive that even Tiger Woods couldn't match (We think!).

Cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin plans to begin a spacewalk set for Wednesday evening by knocking a lightweight golf ball off a tee placed on the top of the Russian docking port.

"I play ice hockey and my understanding is that it is very similar," Tyurin said in an interview during which he discussed the stunt, part of the Russian space agency's quest for commercial contributions to help their space program.

Club maker Element 21 Golf Co. of Toronto is paying the Russians an undisclosed amount for the Cosmonauts time, which has included plenty of practice swings aboard the space station.

"Of course the crew is taking this very, very seriously so they've been doing a lot of practice," said NASA flight director Holly Ridings.

Federal law bars the U.S. space agency from getting any money for its involvement in the stunt but they will have a close eye on it to make sure it goes right.

NASA has held up the golf shot for months while safety experts went over possible flight paths for the ball to make sure it would not head back toward the station as a dangerous bit of orbital debris and possibly hit it causing damage.

"No question it's safe," Tyurin said before his flight.

"Our safety community has done a lot of work to understand and get ready for this task," Ridings said. "There is absolutely no re-contact issue with the space station."

Tyurin has been aboard the space station since September. He isn't expected to wind up and crush the ball like John Daly, he'll just tap it with the club. The ball itself weighs just 0.16 ounces, instead of the standard-issue 1.6 ounces.

Tyurin has to make the shot one-handed because his spacesuit prevents him from bringing his hands together like a normal golf swing.

Station commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, who is accompanying Tyurin during the spacewalk, will help set up a camera to film the shot for an upcoming television commercial.

It looks like the drive however softly its hit will be the longest ever but how far is anyones guess. NASA figures it will fall into Earth's atmosphere and be incinerated within three days. Element 21 Golf is hoping for three years.

This isn't the first golf ball hit in space but is much closer to our clubhouse called Earth.

During the Apollo 14 moon mission in 1971, U.S. astronaut Alan Shepard hit a golf ball with a six-iron from the lunar surface and boasted that it traveled "miles and miles" in the low-gravity atmosphere.