Phil Plait on Golfing from the ISS

I read a headline about golfing in space and assumed they were referring to Alan Sheperd’s golf shot on the moon but it turns out that it happened on the ISS recently.

Well, despite many protests (here and here, for example) Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin went ahead and hit a golf ball off the International Space Station.

It was a stunt paid for by a golf club company, and the cash-strapped Russian Space agency eagerly accepted the money. I am of two minds about this, since I like the idea of private companies supporting space travel, but I also think it can go too far. Hitting the golf ball into space was a silly gimmick, but I also think it’s stupidly dangerous. It only massed three grams, but at orbital speeds it could destroy another satellite. The odds are low, but why purposely increase the amount of junk floating in space?

The company has already jumped in and, according to a peeved-sounding NASA official, grossly exaggerated what happened, too: