A colleague and I randomly started on this subject, and, not being very good at anything science / physics related we were stumped at how this might work. So the question is:

If I park my space ship in space, such that it is as close to being as perfectly still as possible, can it maneuver freely with some sort of propulsion system?

We are under the assumption that, in order to move there needs to be something to move against, which we are assuming is absent in space.

  • $\begingroup$ That is a bad assumption. Rockets work best in vacuum, where there is nothing to push against. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Nov 12 '14 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ Apologies for the dumb question, but we could only come up with so many assumptions without knowing anything about the subject :) $\endgroup$ – Simon Whitehead Nov 12 '14 at 4:40
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidHammen - it's a wrong assumption but not a bad one. $\endgroup$ – Martin Beckett Nov 12 '14 at 13:46

Well still is a little tricky to define in space, but assuming it isn't close enough to any other object to feel its gravity it will just stay there. Until you use its engines.

Rocket engines don't need anything to push against, throwing the exhaust out of the back is what pushes it forward. Think of it as like the recoil of a gun when you fire a bullet behind you

  • $\begingroup$ Fantastic. Makes sense. $\endgroup$ – Simon Whitehead Nov 12 '14 at 4:40
  • $\begingroup$ It is better to describe the rocket engine pushing against the fuel it burns. Or as they say in Interstellar "Can't get anywhere without leaving something behind". $\endgroup$ – Aron Nov 26 '14 at 5:38

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