No Time for Golf in Space

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The two crewmen aboard the international space station planned to venture outside Thursday night on a nearly six-hour spacewalk filled with maintenance tasks, with no time left for a little golf.
 
A publicity stunt in which one of the men was supposed to whack a golf ball into orbit for the longest drive in history was scratched.
 
Instead, Russian commander Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. flight engineer Jeff Williams were scheduled, among other things, to repair an oxygen-generation system, replace a camera, reposition a cable, and retrieve a thruster residue collection plate, a contamination monitoring device and biology experiments.
 
The spacewalk was the first scheduled for the two crewmen since their arrival at the space station in early April. During their careers, Vinogradov has made five previous spacewalks and Williams has conducted a single spacewalk.
 
A Canadian golf club manufacturer paid Russia's space agency an undisclosed amount to have Vinogradov hit a gold-plated golf ball into space.
 
But the stunt was postponed until later in the year after NASA asked the Russians to use the half-hour instead to replace a camera on a railcar that is being used to construct the space station, said Nataliya Hearn, president and chief executive of Element 21 Golf.
 
A few items needed for the spacewalk got lost somewhere inside the cluttered space station. Among them: part of a Russian foot restraint for holding Vinogradov in place at the end of a 55-foot boom. He planned to use a U.S.-made tether instead.
 
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