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Astronomy
Neil Armstrong
The Moon
Astronauts

What happens to the weight of astronauts when they are in orbit?

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June 19, 2008 9:26AM

In orbit, all things are in free fall. Earth's gravity is still pulling, but free fall simulates the effect of no gravity. Thus, the Astronauts feel weightless. However, they still have mass. This means they must push on something in order to move about the Shuttle or the Space Station, and rely more upon their arms to move about.

Technically, with the entire vehicle (and its air) in free fall, only the very center of mass of the vehicle will experience no gravity. Any object left floating in the cabin will tend to drift off to one of the sides where the local "microgravity" pulls it.

In reality, air circulation currents are stronger than the microgravity, and light objects will tend to drift towards wherever the air intakes are.