about spacewalks outside the ISS?

my knowledge is pretty limited here, so correct me at any point. the international space station orbits the earth, and, much like satellites, it doesn't fall down because of its tangential speed which keeps it trapped like when you spin a yoyo around.

okay, so, if a guy were to step outside of the ISS without any cables, would he not lose the tangential speed and then simply fall? or, there being a cable, would it not be tight to the utmost with the guy holding on for dear life?

my question is: why does it seem like even without a cable, the guy could just hang out outside and maintain a stable distance from the station? what am i missing?


damn, couldn't imagine i would get three great answers within 10 minutes. thank you guys very much. so if we imagine the iss as being thrown forward, the guy who steps out is still being thrown forward (in much the same way as someone jumping off a train procedes to roll forward) and it would take some outside force to change that, and he himself is powerless (and unwilling of course) to create that force, there being essentially nothing out there to interfere with his path.

Update 2:

science is amazing. the fact that any of this is possible out there is mind-blowing.

4 Answers

  • Marek
    Lv 4
    7 years ago
    Best Answer

    Because the astronaut has the same velocity as the ISS when he leaves it. He will maintain this speed because "An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an external force acts upon it." - 1st law of motion by Isaac Newton.

    Image you are inside the moving train. You are standing still. Now you will jump upwards only. What happens you will land on exactly the same spot. How come train will not move below you feet as you are in mid air ? Because of the same principle as the astronaut in the space station. When you jump (or leave the space station) you already have a speed and direction of movement. This movement does not get canceled when you lost physical contact with the object, you continue to move (because of 1st law of motion) in original direction.

  • 7 years ago

    The ISS was carefully put in orbit outside the atmosphere precisely so that it won't be slowed down by collision with air molecules. Or at least, not enough to be a real problem (it can be boosted occasionally with thrusters)

    It's not going in a straight line like in Newton's first law, it's going in an almost circular orbit, falling towards the earth but always missing.

    If someone steps outside, it's not like stepping outside a train and being blown off by the wind. There is no wind. You would just drift away with whatever velocity you had when you stepped out the door. Which without a cable, would be enough for you to rapidly get lost in space with no way of getting back, unless you had a rocket pack and the skill (or computer assistance) to use it.

    When I say "drift away", I don't mean randomly drift like a leaf in the wind. I mean, you'd be in your own elliptical orbit around the earth which slowly diverged from that of the ISS.

  • 3 years ago

    a stable question. the comprehensive venture, ISS, return and forth and astronauts are some thing of a closed gadget. If one section strikes so as that it shifts the middle of mass then each and every thing will pass in any such way that the middle of mass follows a similar orbit. you've observed that the robotic palms are slightly versatile and so is the docking connection between the ISS and the return and forth. So, if an astronaut on the ISS moved, this might reason the ISS to pass additionally and this may be transmitted through a flexible link to the return and forth. this might reason the ISS and the return and forth to pass incredibly independently of another. it fairly is the reason, while the arm on the ISS became into being related to the shipment that became into being held in place by making use of the arm on the return and forth, the astronauts weren't allowed to workout or make any violent strikes.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    You're not taking into account the fact that an astronaut outside the ISS has the exact same orbital speed as the station (having come from it) & won't have any independent motion without the application of some force.

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