If an object is set in space, will it move away from its location?

Say a space station. Without any kind of thrusters, would it stay where it is, or always be moving off location?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Chair, Jon Custer, Qmechanic Sep 14 at 20:12

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 4
    Seems like you're basically asking if gravity exists in space – Kyle Kanos Sep 14 at 10:01

Here is where it comes down to ones philosophy. Stationary relative to WHAT? If it at a space station around the earth, it should more or less follow the same orbit that the station follows. The space station is in pretty low earth orbit however so it actually feels some atmospheric drag. If this is the case, then the object, due to its cross section, might experience a higher or lower drag, meaning it will fall behind or go ahead of the station.

If we assume the object is within our solar system and at a non-terminal velocity, then it is in orbit around a celestial body. Thi orbit might be circular or very elliptical, but it is there nonetheless.

If we have an object in free space however, we might deem it to be stationary relative to the surrounding space, however, if we view it more macroscopically it is most likely still in orbit around a body such as a star or a planet or any mass in space really.

The parameters for the question are too vague to give one, definitive answer, but i hope my answer answers your question.

What is specific to space, as opposed to, for example, atmosphere, is the absence of friction (the vacuum). All fundamental physical forces are still present in space, notably gravity: a space station without thrusters if close to a planet or star will just fall towards that massive object.

In practice, it is difficult (and in most cases not desirable) to have an object put in space be initially at rest with respect to a planet (say Earth) or a star (like the sun). It will have some non-radial velocity component which will make it move away from the planet at the same time as it falls to it; the resulting trajectory is an orbit.

Now if the space station is far from any massive object, it will still fall along a path depending on far-away stars or even galaxies, what is called a geodesic.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.