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Homework Help: Conservation of momentum problem and kinematics ?

  1. Oct 11, 2009 #1
    Conservation of momentum problem and kinematics!!!????

    Hi, I've been working on this problem for the last three hours, I hope someone can help. In fact, the solution I keep getting is double the correct answer (the answers are in the back of the book, but not the how).
    An 80 kg astronaut is stranded 10 m from his spaceship in free space. In order to get back to his ship, he throws a 2.0 kg piece of equipment w/ a speed of 0.5 m/s directly away from the ship. How long will it take for him to reach the ship?

    man object
    m1=80kg m2= 2.0kg
    vo1=0 vo2= 0
    vf1= ? vf2= .5m/s

    so, i started by treating this like a gun and bullet problem since he will be recoiling.

    Pf(momentum final) = Po (momentum orignal) = 0

    Pf=m1vf1+ m2vf2
    0= m1vf1 +m2vf2
    vf1= (-m2/m1)*vf2
    vf1= .0125 m/s

    okay, now i find the acceleration, so i can then use a kinematic equation to find the time. I only use the info for the man and vo is .0125 m/s and vf=0. x=10m.

    a=-7.81*10^-6 m/s^2

    t=(0-.0125m/s)/-7.81*10^6 m/s^2
    t =1600 seconds

    The problem, is that the book is saying the anwer is 800 seconds. What am I doing wrong!!!!!! Please help!!!!! thank you!!!!!!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2009 #2


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    Homework Helper

    Re: Conservation of momentum problem and kinematics!!!????

    Hi mychellbella, welcome to PF.
    No external force is acting on the astronaut in the direction of his motion. So after throwing the packet, he will move with the uniform velocity.
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