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Friday, March 3, 2006

 

Astronauts plan the biggest golf drive in history

`Russia plans to hit a golf ball into Earth orbit from the International Space Station. If NASA approves the plan, the ball would set records for the longest drive ever made but some experts warn that a mishap could cause “catastrophic” damage to the station.

The plan is part of a commercial deal between the Russian space agency and Element 21 Golf Company, based in Toronto, Canada. In the plan, the station’s next crew members, due to launch to the station on 29 March, will try for the record-breaking swing during one of three planned spacewalks by September 2006. [..]

In a worst-case scenario, the ball would remain at the same altitude long enough that its orbital plane shifted until it could hit the station side-on, says J C Liou, an orbital debris expert at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, US. “Then you could potentially have something similar to a head-on collision with an impact speed of about 9.4 kilometres per second,” Liou told New Scientist.

The force of such a collision would be equivalent to that of a 6.5-tonne truck moving at nearly 100 kilometres per hour. “So the outcome of the worst-case scenario could be quite catastrophic,” he says. But he adds that such a dire scenario is “highly unlikely” to occur.’




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