Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Professor Science

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Professor Science

Article excerpt

WHY do astronauts float inside the space shuttle?

Astronauts appear weightless as they float around their space shuttles in space and the reason is often attributed to there being no gravity in space.

However, this is not true. Space shuttles, the International Space Station, communication satellites and even the moon are close enough to be affected by Earth's gravitational pull; it is what prevents them from flying off into deep space.

Space shuttles are usually 200 to 400km above the surface of the Earth where gravity is 89% of what it is on the ground.

This causes the shuttle to fall, but rather than fall straight down, it falls in a circular path around the Earth called an orbit.

The curvature of the orbit matches the curvature of the Earth so the shuttle will never fall back down and hit the ground.

The shuttle and everything inside it, including the astronauts, are falling together, so they seem to float relative to each other. …

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