April Fools' Day Space Pranks: A Trip to Mars and Legendary Moon Golf Found

Netflights.com celebrated April Fools' Day 2017 by offering luxury space tourist flights to offworld destinations.
Netflights.com celebrated April Fools' Day 2017 by offering luxury space tourist flights to offworld destinations. (Image credit: Netflights.com)

Today, you can sign up for an once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mars and even see the golf ball that was lofted from the lunar surface nearly 50 years ago at a new museum exhibit —also, Happy April Fools' Day!

Netflights.com and The Museum of Flight have a few April Fools' space pranks up their sleeves today, April 1. The travel company offered customers the opportunity to register for pioneer trips to Earth' exosphere, the Moon and even to Mars. Spacefarers were informed they would launch from a "top-secret" spaceport in Lake District, UK, aboard a 20-passenenger spacecraft called TS48.

"The first of three destinations available from Netflights.space [the affiliate of Netflights.com] is a life changing experience to the exosphere, which involves soaring over the International Space Station (ISS) and orbiting the Earth multiple times — an experience currently available for international, space-trained astronauts," the company said in a press release. "The trip to the Moon and back takes just four days, and boasts indulgent dining and sleeping facilities on board."

The final destination on the Netflights April Fools' itinerary is a week-long stay on Mars. With an average cruise speed of 6,111 mph (22,000 km/h), the TS48 would carry passengers to the Red Planet in roughly 102 days, according to the press release.

After scrolling through travel information, a photo of the TS48 spacecraft and details about the company's eco-friendly spaceport, interested customers are prompted to register their email before finding out the campaign is one big April Fools' joke.

To celebrate April Fools' Day, the Museum of Flight in Seattle displayed charred golf ball it claimed was hit from the moon by Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard in 1971. It was, of course, an epic space prank. (Image credit: Museum of Flight)

Lunar Tee Off

On February 6, 1971, Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard took an out-of-this-world stroke at a golf ball on the lunar surface. The Museum of Flight in Seattle announced that that same golf ball had washed up along the coastline in Grays Harbor, WA, where it was found by an oyster farmer named Elliott Swift, and would be included in a new April 1 and 2 exhibit.

"Only a handful of people in NASA knew of Shepard's plan when, on February 6, 1971, after an extended excursion on the lunar surface, he pulled out the club, dropped two balls on the moon and proceeded to strike," according to a press release from the museum. "He shanked the ball so hard that it left lunar orbit and entered a Trans-Earth trajectory. It's likely that ball simply kept orbiting the Earth in an unstable orbit until it finally collided with the atmosphere. Scientists are still a bit unclear about its exact time of re-entry."

According to the museum the legendary golf ball was found last fall in late October or early November. The oyster farmer first brought his unusual find to the local fish and game authorities who said it was truly "unlike anything they had ever seen in our waters." Further testing and research by aerospace researchers confirmed the artifact's true origin: Commander Shepard's golf ball from space.

"Naturally, when I got the call from Mr. Swift about this particular find, we were suspect, but indeed, the chemical tests and analyses proved this ball to be the real thing. There were still traces of lunar regolith embedded deep under the surface of the ball's dimples," Geoff Nunn, The Museum of Flight's Adjunct Curator for Space History, said in the press release. "We couldn't be more proud to feature this precious artifact, particularly as we ramp up to the May opening of the Apollo exhibit."

Although you may not be able to register for a luxurious trip to the Red Planet or marvel at a golf ball that traveled from Earth to the moon and back, it’s fun to enjoy some space humor on April Fools' Day.

Are there more space-themed April Fools' Day pranks that we missed? Let us know about them in the comments.

Follow Samantha Mathewson @Sam_Ashley13. Follow us @Spacedotcom,Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Samantha Mathewson
Contributing Writer

Samantha Mathewson joined Space.com as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.