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Posted by on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 8:24pm.

Suppose a space capsule with an astronaut inside is launched from the top of a tower at some angle above the horizontal.
a)While the capsule is in free fall, what are the acceleration of the astronaut and the capsule?
b)If the astronaut measures his acceleration compared with that of the capsule, what value will he get?
c) In what sense can we say that the astronaut is "weightless" in the capsule? Is he "weightless" because the gravity of the earth has gone away?

This real confuses me so I greatly appreciate the help!

  • Physics - , Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 8:49pm

    when the system is in free fall, both the astronaut and the capsule are accelerating downward at 1 g.
    Therefore the person is not accelerating relative to the capsule.
    That means that there is no force acting on the bottom of his shoes from the capsule. His gravitational force down is exactly equal to his mass times his acceleration. No other force is needed and if he were standing on a scale the scale would read zero.

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