Written in 365 Parts: 112: Trajectories

112: Trajectories

When free floating in a vacuum there are few things that are as disconcerting as the vessel from which you had just been ejected moving away from you. If you are not wearing protective clothing this would be the very least of your worries. Tthe sight of the vehicle you came from would be fleeting due to the expansion of your eyes, and the resulting loss of sight from the air inside your blood vessels expanding under zero pressure. The skin however has incredible elasticity and would be unlikely to burst, unlike the schlocky sensovision shorts.

If you were wise, and expecting to be rescued within the first ninety seconds, the greatest chance for your survival in such a situation would be to open the mouth and make sure the oxygen in your lungs could escape. No sense in rupturing the delicate tissue. The air in your mouth would boil away in moments and the intense cold would freeze your skin, but again there are advantages to this. The initial instant freezing would result in a very temporary insulation. Giving you extra seconds in which to be rescued and receive the now vital medical attention.

If, however, you were safely encased in a low pressure suit, such as a modest environment hard suit, your situation in regards to the pressure and cold would be massively improved. The hard suit suffered in regards to the mobility of a soft suit. The soft suit was so called as it was usually a seamless composite outfit, lightly armoured, for use in hostile environments and limited time in high radiation, zero pressure.

The hard suit was often a mixture of layers, each sealed at important joints, in sections giving the maximum amount of movement possible in an outfit that was hardened against high exposure to temperature extremes and instant pressure changes. It was always self-pressurised and came with a variety of attachments, for civilian or military deployment. It also came with oxygen supplies and recycling units.

A hard suit would protect the wearer for as long as their supplies of oxygen, water and nutrition, in that order, lasted. Which was of no comfort if the vessel you had been ejected from was moving away from you. 

There is, as has been demonstrated, almost no friction in space. There might be some inertia issues caused by collisions with objects ejected into your local region, but there is no friction. There is also little to change your trajectory, except via collision. In this manner objects in zero gravity and zero pressure obey, almost completely, the first law of motion. They continue along their trajectory unless compelled by some force to change that direction.

If you are ejected from a vessel due to explosive decompression you will not accelerate rapidly away. This again is the realm of cheap fiction. You will move a distance away from the vessel you recently inhabited but the inertia still applies. You would become a body in motion along the same trajectory as the vessel you left and moving at a broadly similar speed. This assumes that you are not affected by gravity, otherwise the law of motion as mentioned above would be to your eventual detriment.

This was the situation that Drick found themselves in as they tumbled out of the hole in the bulkhead. To their advantage the suit, which had been damaged by the harpoon was still strong enough to survive even zero pressure. But there were bigger issues. The vessel they had just left was changing course as they tumbled gently alongside it. If the gods had smiled on Drick that course would have been towards them. The gods however were busy ruining their life. The vessel was rotating away and accelerating, no doubt to head to some safe haven to repair the massive hole in its hull. Unless it had been taken over. It was irrelevant at this point.

The second piece of bad news was more of Drick’s fault than any random piece of mythic metaphoric deism. Drick had one fewer oxygen cylinders than this suit carried. This was bad news. Worse news was that the suit only carried one. The resulting situation was that Drick had the atmosphere the suit had been currently  pressurised with, and whatever the recycler unit could keep fresh. This was approximately twenty minutes worth of breath, slightly more if Drick slowed their breathing, meditated and calmed themselves to a state of total calm. It would buy them an extra three minutes or so, not quite half an hour until a gasping, spasm filled, expiration.

Drick looked at the oxygen bottle spinning on a broadly similar trajectory to them but over a hundred metres away. It may as well have been a hundred kilometres. The ship had completed a barrel rotation and angled roll. The only plus side to this manoeuvre was that the engines were not directly pointed as Drick, though if they had been death would have at least been mercifully quick. The ship started to accelerate away leaving a trail of debris, and one very annoyed former occupant, drifting at high speed on the vessel’s former course.

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