Explainer: Golf on the moon and other space antics

  • Mikhail Metzel  /  AP

    By John Roach, contributor

    Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte set a new high for clowning around when he visited the International Space Station in 2009. The Canadian billionaire wore his trademark red nose when he arrived at the station and when he landed back on Earth. In between, he emceed a global extravaganza from space to raise awareness about water conservation — and threatened to tickle his fellow spacefliers while they slept.

    Laliberte isn't the only person to bring some levity into orbit. Click the "Next" arrow to learn about nine more antics in outer space.

  • Golf on the moon


    Golf ... on the moon? No problem. Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard found time while on the moon in 1971 to hit a few golf balls with a 6-iron. His bulky spacesuit meant he had to whack at the ball with one arm. He connected on his second stroke, sending the ball, in his words, "miles and miles and miles." The mission was also the first to be broadcast in color TV. This screen shot from the broadcast shows Shepard preparing for a stroke.

  • Out for a lunar stroll


    Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt delivered smiles around the world in 1972 as he bounced along the lunar surface singing "I was strolling on the moon one day." The lighthearted sing-along ends in an exchange with his moonwalking buddy, astronaut Eugene Cernan, who says, "Boy, this is a neat way to travel." Schmitt, a trained geologist, was collecting some lunar rock samples in the image shown here.

  • Cola wars in space


    The cutthroat competition between soft drink makers isn't necessarily restrained by gravity. In 1985, both Pepsi and Coke flew specially designed cans aboard the space shuttle Challenger, which flew nine missions before it exploded after takeoff in January 1986. During the 1985 mission, Astronaut Anthony England drank from a can labeled Coke, while astronaut Karl Henize sipped from a can labeled Pepsi. No official word on who won the taste test, but there's a rumor that Coke came out on top. Not to be outdone, Pepsi had a balloon decorated like a giant soft-drink can inflated on Russia's Mir space station in 1996, for a TV commercial touting a new can design.

  • Far-out pizza delivery

    Pizza Hut

    Cuisine aboard the International Space Station had a familiar smell and taste when Pizza Hut arranged for the first delivery of a pizza to outer space in 2001. The 6-inch-wide, vacuum-sealed space pizza featured a crispy crust, tomato sauce and cheese, and was topped with salami. "Researchers found that pepperoni did not withstand the 60-day testing process," the company explained. Cosmonaut Yury Usachev gives the pie a thumbs up in the image shown here.

  • 'SuitSat' hams it up


    In a scene that might make getting voted off the island in an episode of reality TV show "Survivor" seem like small potatoes, the crew aboard the International Space Station jettisoned what appeared to be one of their own from their orbiting lab in 2006. Actually, the cosmonaut suit was stuffed dirty laundry and radio equipment - much to the delight of ham-radio fans across the globe. The hams tracked "SuitSat," shown here, for several days before it burned up in Earth's atmosphere.

  • Teeing off on the space station


    Sneaking in a little time to play golf is always a tricky undertaking, especially on the International Space Station. But after months of delay and considerable hand-wringing over the safety of taking a whack at a ball with a 6-iron while on a spacewalk, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin got his shot, a little more than 35 years after Alan Shepard's strokes on the lunar links. Canadian equipment manufacturer Element 21 Golf Co. paid the Russians an undisclosed sum for the 2006 stunt as part of a promotion for a new line of golf clubs. A NASA drawing, shown here, illustrates how the cosmonaut set up for the one-armed tee-off.

  • Comic twist to space workouts


    The treadmill shown here isn't your run-of-the-mill exercise machine: It's a high-tech gizmo that permits astronauts to work up a sweat without disturbing sensitive experiments on the International Space Station. But the device may have gone largely unnoticed had it not been named after comedian Stephen Colbert. Colbert had lobbied for a new module on the station to be named after him -- and won an online poll for naming rights. But NASA decided to name the module Tranquility, after Tranquility Base on the moon. The treadmill, which is formally called the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT, was a consolation prize.

  • Magic carpet ... and magic underwear


    Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata rode a magic carpet but met with some difficulty folding laundry during his three-month stay on the International Space Station in 2009. The astronaut demonstrated these and other tasks as part of a publicity stunt put together by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. While the video of the exploits entertained Earth-bound fans, Wakata's station mates were forced to endure his tests of purportedly odor-free clothing.

  • Foot-tall space stowaway


    Buzz Lightyear, a 12-inch-tall action figure, recently returned to Earth after a 15-month stay aboard the International Space Station. Crew members concede that he spent a fair amount of his stay stowed away, but the toy was pulled out for occasional filming stints as part of NASA's educational outreach program. After his return, Lightyear was in for to a ticker-tape style parade at Walt Disney World in Florida with a real-life action figure: Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments