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Go Deep! Astronaut's Football Pass May Be Longest Ever

Football pass on ISS
NASA astronaut Tim Kopra threw a football pass down the length of the International Space Station. Considering that the station travels at 17,500 mph (28,163 km/h), NASA estimated that the ball was technically covering about 8,800 yards per second (8046 m/s) as seen from Earth. (Image credit: NASA)

Has a NASA astronaut set a new record for the longest football pass in history? A new video shot in orbit aboard the International Space Station captured the incredible feat. 

The space station orbits the Earth at a speed of about 17,500 mph (28,163 km/h). Therefore, when astronaut Tim Kopra gently tossed a football down the length of the station, the ball was technically covering about 8,800 yards per second (8046 m/s) as measured by someone standing on Earth. In total, the ball traveled 564,664 yards (516,328 meters), according to the video, and NASA posed the question, "Is this a new world record?" [NASA Goes to Super Bowl 2017 (Photos)]

We're guessing that Guinness World Records will not grant Kopra the record, considering that he too was traveling at an incredible speed when he threw the ball. 

Kopra returned home from his latest trip to the orbiting laboratory in June 2016, so it seems NASA has been holding on to this potentially record-setting footage for a while, and chose to release it ahead of the 2017 Super Bowl this Sunday (Feb. 5).

NASA has made its presence known at this year's Super Bowl, which will take place in Houston, home of the Johnson Space Center. Leading up to the big game, visitors to Houston can check out a free festival taking place at Discovery Green, located in the city's downtown area. There, the main attraction, called "Future Flight," is a virtual reality roller coaster that simulates a spacecraft landing on Mars. 

The free festival features displays, booths and activities created by NASA, as well as by private spaceflight companies, including Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK and Raytheon. 

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Calla Cofield
Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined Space.com's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Space.com Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left Space.com to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter