Product placement in space
- November 24, 2006 4:58 PM |
- By Quirks
It was a lame, one-handed slice, but the tee-off shot by Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin from the side of the International Space Station set a world record for distance. In fact, it’s probably still flying.
The publicity stunt, paid for by a Canadian golf club manufacturer, came on the 35th anniversary of the first golf shot in space by Alan Shepherd, when he made a one-handed sand trap shot on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission. Shepherd said his contraband golf ball flew for "miles and miles" in the low moon gravity. It probably went less than a hundred yards. This week’s orbital shot will cover millions.
Shepherd’s stunt was personal. An avid golfer, he smuggled two golf balls and the head of a six iron on board the moon rocket in 1971 and fashioned a club handle out of a lunar tool. His one-armed shot (space suits are too stiff for a proper grip) was a last minute ploy at the end of the mission, just before climbing back into the lunar module for the trip home.
The latest Russian tee-off was all about publicity and the growing trend of commercialization in space. The Canadian golf club manufacturer paid an undisclosed amount to the Russian Space Federation to have its gold plated Scandium club shipped up to the space station and have the shot filmed for a commercial.
This is not the first time the Russians have made commercial deals for space flight. After all, these are the same people who offer a middle seat in their Soyuz capsules to any space tourists who are willing to hand over $22 million for the ride.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union virtually destroyed their space budgets, the Russian space program has been struggling for cash and is not afraid to go after it through advertising. In the 1980’s, they carried a giant inflatable Pepsi Can up to the Mir Space Station and one of their Proton heavy lift rockets sported a Pizza Hut logo during a launch in 1999.
NASA, the U.S. space agency, is prohibited by law from soliciting private funds, but the Russians and the private space companies gearing up for space tourism will take cash from wherever they can find it. Don’t be surprised to see spacecraft in the future smothered in logos like racecars, with astronauts endorsing products from orbit.
— Bob McDonald
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