M4 Accident in Space

You are the sole astronaut on a scientific mission in a space ship.  You have to make a repair on the outside of the ship and while doing so you become detached from the umbilical cord that was holding you to the ship.  You start floating away!

You have no directional jets that would enable you to catch up with the ship.  You do however have a handgun with 12 bullets.  If you were to fire the bullets in one-second intervals in the opposite direction, would you approach the spaceship?  If so, would it be at uniform speed?  Explain your answer.

Concepts involved:

  • Newton’s (third) law of motion (action and reaction), uniform/constant speed (velocity), force, mass, acceleration/deceleration.

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