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    ISS crew set to tee off in first open space golf attempt

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    MISSION CONTROL CENTER, March 14 (RIA Novosti) - The next crew to man the world's sole civilian space station will make something of a departure from the customary agenda of technical work and scientific experiment by indulging in a spot of golf.

    "This will be an attempt to tee off a ball into open space using an ordinary club," Pavel Vinogradov, who will lift off to the station with American Jeffrey Williams on March 30, told journalists Tuesday. "I have never played golf myself, but have practiced with Jeffrey a couple of times."

    Although golf is a relative sporting newcomer to Russia, Vinogradov seemed to be enthusiastic about the game and with his zero-gravity driving range will be going one step further than astronaut Alan Shepherd, who became the first man to strike a golf ball on the Moon in 1971.

    "Many people play golf on Earth, and I think they enjoy it," he said. "Jeffrey and I will be playing together, and we'll see what happens."

    The ISS crew will also include Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes, who will return after his short program with the 12th ISS expedition.

    NASA has agreed to pay the Russian agency $21 million for taxiing the American astronaut to and from the station. It will be the first time that the U.S. space agency has paid the Russian Space Agency, which ferried crews to the station for free when the Shuttle fleet was grounded for two years in the wake of the 2003 Columbia tragedy.

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