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Apollo astronaut really did hit lunar golf ball for miles and miles and miles

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Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard famously took a golf ball along with him to the Moon, making him the first person to play golf on another world. But just how far did his shot travel? One physicist has the answer.

After taking his second shot, Shepard observed the ball seemed to travel for "miles and miles and miles." Theoretical astrophysicist and ScienceBlogs writer Ethan Siegel put this claim to the test, calculating just how far you could send a golf ball flying in the airless, reduced gravity environment of the Moon.


He found that, assuming the golfing astronaut knew how to adjust his approach to properly take advantage of the Moon's environment, he could easily hit the ball 2.5 miles. Perhaps even more amazingly, the ball would likely stay in the air for about 70 seconds before finally coming to a rest. Shepard's shot likely wasn't quite perfect enough to make it that far, but he probably was right in his initial observation that the ball went over a mile into the distance.

Indeed, considering Earth's longest golf shot was probably Mike Austin's 515 yard drive in 1974, Shepard almost certainly holds the unofficial record for longest drive in human history. Here's an ESPN commercial featuring the footage of Shepard's swing, complete with some rather amusing interplay between Shepard and Mission Control: