Many people believe that orbiting astronauts feel weightless because they are “beyond the pull of the earth’s gravity.” How far from the earth would a spacecraft have to travel to be truly beyond the earth’s gravitational influence? If a spacecraft were really unaffected by the earth’s gravity, would it remain in orbit? Explain. What is the real reason astronauts in orbit feel weightless?
Step 1: The spacecraft would travel infinitely long distance from Earth to experience zero gravitational pull. Step 2: If a spacecraft were really unaffected by the earth’s gravity, it wouldn’t remain in its orbit. It would go beyond the influence of Earth into deep space. But the spacecraft may be attracted by some other masses.