• Question: how do you get back to the spaceship if theres 0% gravity

    Asked by __a.i.d.e.n_ to Simon, Julia, Delma, Andrew, Alex on 13 Dec 2015.
    • Photo: Andrew Winnard

      Andrew Winnard answered on 13 Dec 2015:

      This is a great question! If you float off from your spaceship in zero gravity vacuum, there is nothing to pull on or push off to get yourself moving back toward the ship again! You could end up stuck in orbit floating along until your air runs out which would be a bad day for you!

      Astronauts on the space station, never separate from the structure, even when they are doing space walks. They are always fastened on using a tether, which is like a piece of rope that holds them to the station. So even if they accidentally let go and “fall off” the station, the tether stops them floating far and they can use it pull themselves back! If you look carefully in this video you can see they never go far off the station and you can sometimes see the tethers:

      The other thing you can do though – is have a jet pack! In the 1980s NASA tested a jet pack for astronauts! It was called the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). After a safety review following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the MMU was judged too risky for further use and it was found many activities planned for the MMU could be done effectively with manipulator arms or traditional tethered EVAs. However todays astronauts still use Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) which is a small, self-contained, propulsive backpack system (jet pack) worn during spacewalks, to be used in case of emergency only. If an astronaut did drift off the space station, it provides free-flying mobility to return to the spaceship. So far, there has not been an emergency in which it was needed.

      Here is a video that shows you the MMU:

      PS: The astro support team will start getting evicted this week from Tuesday! If you like my replies where I try to include videos for you then please vote for me – and check out the videos I made myself specially for you guys this weekend on my profile page! 😀