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How do we float in space?

How do we float in space?
St.Anselms RC Primary School (Age 5-14)
Sylvia Kucharska-Nguyen and Year 3 from Kent (age 5-14)

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3 Responses

  1. We float in space because there is no gravity there. Gravity is the force which attracts us and other objects (cars, chairs, school books) to the centre of the Earth. Isaac Newton, a 17th century thinker, was the first in raising its existence. Gravity explains why our feet are always attached to the floor and when we jump or fall always move towards the Earth.

    In space we are so far away from Earth and other planets that gravity force doesn’t apply. That’s why we float.

    Miguel Garcia-Sancho
    Centre for the History of Science
    University of Manchester
    http://www.chstm.manchester.ac.uk

    Look at my articles at

    http://www.hss.ed.ac.uk/genomics/vol2no3/Garcia-sanchoabstract.htm.

    and

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.endeavour.2007.01.006

  2. Its not really true to say that there is no gravity in space. If you are a long, long way from anything else (like half way to the next star) then the gravitational pull between you and anything else is very small but you can float in space even when you are near to massive objects like the Earth, for example astronauts in orbit around the Earth.

    The gravitational pull of the Earth on an astronaut when they are in orbit is surprisingly almost the same as for you and me standing on the ground – so why do they float around in their space capsules?

    To understand that, think about what happens if you are in a lift and it suddenly starts to go down. You will feel a lurch in your stomach – you are falling, briefly.

    If the cables for the lift were cut and the lift fell, you would float around inside the lift – not for long admittedly! until it hit the bottom but if all you could see was inside the lift, you would feel that you were floating exactly like you were in space. That’s exactly what the astronauts do, they are falling around the Earth.

    That sounds very strange – you will ask, why don’t they hit the ground? The difference between them in orbit and you in the lift is that they are moving at such high speed in orbit that the ground curves away beneath them (because the Earth is shaped like a ball) and so what is happening is that they are continually falling around the Earth – but never hit the ground!

    Because they are in space – above almost all of the atmosphere, they can keep on going and going continually around the Earth because there is nothing to slow them down! If they come lower then they would be too slowed down by the friction of the air – and they are not properly protected from it by their heat shields, then the space craft burns up – as tragically happened to the Space Shuttle Columbia. That is why we can only orbit in space and not closer to the Earth because we can’t keep going fast enough in the atmosphere.

  3. its not true that there is no gravity that makes them float. there is gravity and astronauts don’t just float around in the orbiter. well it may seem like they float but they are actually in free fall. just like a skydiver, well the orbiter orbits the earth at an incredible speed of 17,500 mph (i think) which is very fast. if the orbiter wasn’t that fast, earth gravity would pull it down towards the earth. since the orbiter is so fast it can circle earth without getting drawn to the surface of the earth, which means they fall around the planet. imagine u were in an elevator, and the cable would break, the elevator and you would fall together at the same rate and if u had an apple with u, the apple would also fall together with you and the elevator which causes every object inside it to float, well until u hit the ground lol since the orbiter can never hit the ground and orbit the earth permanently, you and any other object inside the orbiter would fall at the same rate around the earth.

    check out this video and u’ll see what i mean:

    http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/topnav/materials/listbytype/Why_Do_Astronauts_Float.html

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