NASA flight controller reveals biggest myth about outer space

NASA flight controller Robert Frost reveals what he believes is the biggest myth about outer space.
By Tyler MacDonald | Jul 18, 2018
Robert Frost, Instructor and Flight Controller at NASA, recently revealed what he believes is the biggest myth about outer space.

"That there is no gravity in space," he said. "People do not have a good understanding of what weightlessness is. They see astronauts floating around inside and outside a spacecraft and reach the conclusion that there is no gravity."

Frost continued to explain that gravity, which is the curvature of spacetime resulting from the presence of mass, exists anywhere that space and mass does.

"The gravitational influence from the Sun that keeps the Earth in orbit around the Sun is felt equally by the astronauts in space," he said. "The gravitational influence from the Earth that keeps the Moon and the ISS in Earth orbit is also felt by the astronauts floating inside and outside the spacecraft. If these influences were not felt, the astronauts would not stay in orbit."

Astronauts appear to float from weightlessness because they are in freefall.

"Imagine an astronaut on Earth standing on a scale," Frost said. "The scale would indicate weight because gravity is pulling the astronaut towards the center of the Earth but the Earth isn't willing to get out of the way. Weight is the perception of the Earth not getting out of the way."

"Now imagine that same astronaut in space, orbiting the Earth," he continued. "He has the same scale, and he stands upon it. Will it show weight? No. It won't show weight because the astronaut and scale are falling together and there is no contact with the Earth to allow the Earth to push back."

Frost ended by explaining that if it weren't for the resistance below them, skydivers would experience the same thing as astronauts.

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