MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Ship accelerates in space

Date: Tue Feb 20 13:06:43 2001
Posted By: Juan Cabanela, Faculty, Physics, Astronomy, & Engineering Science, Saint Cloud State University
Area of science: Physics
ID: 982394230.Ph

It's quite simple really.  The only reason a space ship (or any other 
object) will accelerate (where "accelerate" means to change velocity, 
either in magnitude or direction) is if a force is applied to the 

When you cut off the engine of the ship, there is no longer a force 
being applied to the spaceship, so it "coasts" along at a constant 

In essense, the situation you are describing is encompassed in 
Newton's First Law:  "An object moving at constant velocity (including 
zero velocity) will remain at constant velocity unless acted upon by a 
force."  In other words, you need to apply a force to accelerate 

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