Apparently, there is a load of scraps even outside the earth, but how many golf balls are on the moon?
Playing the sport on an ordinary golf course is in itself challenging already. Just imagine how difficult it is to do golfing on the surface of the moon.
In this article, we will tackle the question – how many golf balls are there on the moon and the reason why they exist in that place.
How many golf balls are on the moon?
Let us first do a recount of the history and the science behind it to answer the questions – how many golf balls on the moon truly exist and did an astronaut hit a golf ball on the moon?
About five decades ago, a golfer and astronaut named Alan Shepard decided to transform the Apollo 14 landing site into a golf driving range.
Alan Shephard, an astronaut, and a golfer
Shepard was popularly known as the first American astronaut in space. But more than that, he is also the only person who was able to play golf on the surface of the moon.
In 1971, the Apollo 14 commander attached a 6-iron golf club to a lunar surface soil sampler’s foldable shaft just before leaving the surface.
A 6-iron golf club is generally used for hitting the ball to longer distances. Like many other spaceflight equipments, the golf club that he brought was customized so it can fit onto the soil sampler.
However, the modification costs for Shepard’s golf club is not defined until now. More claims emerged about how Shepard was able to carry the golf equipment that he used in space.
Some say that he smuggled or snuck the golf balls and the golf club on the spacecraft through his gear where he hid the items. However, that is not entirely true.
Shepard, being a golfer and an astronaut, was so curious how the sport will go when it is done on the surface of the moon. He was interested if it was even possible to hit a golf ball on the moon.
As it happened, Shepard asked permission from the Manned Spaceflight Center director at the time, Bob Gilruth.
It took a lot of persuading but Gilruth eventually allowed him to bring the items to space. But what convinced the director was Shepard’s proposal.
He told Gilruth that if an equipment failure or anything embarrassing happens, he will not push through with it.
However, if there is even a small portion of the possibility that he can hit those golf balls on the moon, he wanted to show it to the world.
And with that, he was able to convince Gilruth in letting him bring a golf club and golf balls on the moon.
Can you hit a golf ball on the surface of the moon?
Of course, someone can hit a ball on the moon. You can even make it travel for quite a distance for several reasons.
This includes the moon’s gravity, which is about one-sixth as strong as the Earth’s gravity. Hence, striking a golf ball up at an angle will result in a parabolic arc that ascends to a high point.
The vertical velocity of the ball will then be zero, and it will descend back on the surface. As you already know, the golf ball does not stay long in the ear when you are on earth.
This is because the planet’s gravity keeps on pulling it down. On the contrary, the golf ball can travel much further when it is on the moon since the gravity there is relatively weaker.
Another concept behind is air resistance. When you hit a golf ball on earth, it would not travel as much as a golf ball hit on the moon.
This is because air resistance hinders it from flying too far. In case you forgot from your grade school lessons, there is no air resistance on the moon, which allows for a longer driving range.
Now that you know the science and history, let us proceed to the question – how many golf balls are on the moon?
When you search online, there are different claims on how many golf balls on the moon exist. Sometimes, it is quite confusing because of the many resources with varying bases.
Fortunately, you can find out with us how many golf balls are there on the moon.
Did an astronaut hit a golf ball on the moon?
As mentioned above, Alan Shepard attempted to do it. So, did an astronaut hit a golf ball on the moon? The answer is yes.
However, the bigger question is how many golf balls are on the moon. If you wish to find out, read more.
There have been numerous sources online claiming that there are three golf balls on the moon. One of them is a trivia from NASA’s Space Facts Archive on 16th of August 2007.
Aside from mentioning three golf balls, it also indicated that Shepard used 8 iron, which contradicts Shepard’s actual statement about it being 6-iron.
On the other hand, some sources say that the answer to the question – how many golf balls are on the moon, is certainly two.
Hence, we did cross-comparisons by collecting data from different sources online, including recordings to finally give a clear answer to both of these questions – how many golf balls are on the moon, and did an astronaut hit a golf ball on the moon?
After careful research and cross-checking with existing recordings, we found out that two golf balls only exist on the surface of the moon.
An interview with Alan Shepard in 1991 confirmed that he only brought two golf balls to space. It was later supported by a statement from NASA saying that it is indeed only two.
Like other people, Shepard was proud when he managed to hit a ball on the moon. He kept saying “miles, miles, and miles…” which is an achievable distance if you are in space since there is no air resistance.
According to experts, it is possible to keep the ball in flight for about more than a minute and reach as far as 2.5 miles.
However, you should hit it at the right angle with just enough precision. In Shepard’s case, it was too difficult to accomplish since he was wearing a bulky spacesuit.
If you are going to comb through records, you would know that he tried to hit the first ball twice. During his first attempt, his swing had more contact with the dirt than the ball.
On the other hand, his second swing made the ball fly about 200 yards, which is a good record if the swing was done on earth.
So, did an astronaut hit a golf ball on the moon? Yes, and it was epic.
Why are there golf balls on the moon
How many golf balls are there on the moon is the question that we already know the answer to. And now, the follow-up question is why are there golf balls on the moon?
Well, it all started with curiosity. As mentioned above, Alan Shepard who is both a golfer and an astronaut in the 1970s thought about what it was like to hit a golf ball on the surface of the moon.
He was interested in the possibility that it could be pulled off. However, that curiosity grew deeper into wanting to show the world discovery.
So, why are there golf balls on the moon? At first, Shepard argued by saying that bringing golf equipment in space can be used for scientific outreach.
He said that he already paid for the modification of his equipment, and the money came from his pocket.
Another reason it happened is because of the statement Shepard delivered when he was pitching the idea to Gilruth.
He said, “My intention was to do it towards the end of the mission, stand in front of the camera, hit the golf balls using a makeshift club, fold it up, put it in my pocket, climb the ladder, close the door, and off we go.”
Some would say scientific outreach is just another term for ‘I am curious, and I want to know what will happen if it pushes through.’
Regardless of the intention of Shepard, everyone can agree that those golf balls on the moon are signs of achievement.
Some would even argue that it is the start or an attempt to terraform the natural satellite of the earth.
The two golf balls that were brought on the surface of the moon would be great for lunar looters since they are not yet legally protected.
However, finding them would be too difficult since it has been there since the 1970s.
It would have been easy if you found it just a few years later since the white color of the ball would have stood out on the grey color of the satellite.
Who created the golf balls used in space?
Until now, there is no clear explanation as to who manufactured the golf balls that Shepard used on the moon’s surface.
Many companies are quick to claim that it came from them but Shepard gave no confirmation. Shepard just commented on how the process was a totally fun thing to do.
NASA also refused to verify or name the company that manufactured the two golf balls. They did not want the lunar golf stunt to be commercialized.
We have discussed the answers to the questions – did an astronaut hit a golf ball on the moon, and why are there golf balls on the moon.
We know that it happened and the astronaut who successfully did it is named Alan Shepard.
Although the debate about how many golf balls are on the moon persists, we also know that the number of golf balls that were used on the surface of the moon is just two.
There are more than a hundred kinds of scraps on the natural satellite of the earth.
However, having equipment that people use earthbound in there is an accomplishment.
Perhaps, there would be more in the future. But as of now, those are the only existing golf balls in space.