1. Does a space shuttle travelling in space experience any resistance to its motion?

  2. If a body in space is applied constant force, does it attain speed of light after sufficient time?


1 Answer 1

  1. Yes a spacecraft traveling through space experiences some opposing force or drag through particles and radiation. Most of what we consider vacuum is filled with gas, photons and a sea of subatomic particles that will interact with the craft and change its momentum. Even in a complete vacuum it is possible that quantum mechanical field fluctuations, especially of the electromagnetic field, affect the craft's motion.
  2. A constant force will never result in an object with mass attaining light speed. Through relativistic effects, the mass of the object will experience a gamma correction leading to ever decreasing accelerations. In fact the speed attainable is asymptotic to the speed of light.
  • $\begingroup$ So the space isnt empty and it consists of gas, photons and subatomic particles? $\endgroup$
    – SS4
    Mar 9, 2016 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ Note that the ever decreasing accelerations are decreasing from the perspective of an inertial observer. From the perspective of the accelerating mass, the acceleration is constant. Also, @SS4, you are correct. Space isn't quite empty. $\endgroup$
    – Lacklub
    Mar 9, 2016 at 13:33

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