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Apollo 8 Astronauts Pass The Equigravisphere

I can't really call this a news story, since it took place more than half a century ago, but I thought it was worth noting:

The equigravisphere is the point at which the gravitational attraction of the Moon is the same as that of the Earth, roughly speaking. And the first person that I know of to describe this point is Jules Verne in his 1867 novel From the Earth to the Moon.

Barbicane clearly explained the consequences to his traveling companions, which greatly interested them. But how should they know when the projectile had reached this neutral point situated at that distance, especially when neither themselves, nor the objects enclosed in the projectile, would be any longer subject to the laws of weight? Up to this time, the travelers, while admitting that this action was constantly decreasing, had not yet become sensible to its total absence. But that day, about eleven o'clock in the morning, Nicholl having accidentally let a glass slip from his hand, the glass, instead of falling, remained suspended in the air.

"Ah!" exclaimed Michel Ardan, "that is rather an amusing piece of natural philosophy."

And immediately divers other objects, firearms and bottles, abandoned to themselves, held themselves up as by enchantment. Diana too, placed in space by Michel, reproduced, but without any trick, the wonderful suspension practiced by Caston and Robert Houdin. Indeed the dog did not seem to know that she was floating in air.

However, Verne wrote that the men would only achieve a state of weightlessness at the point in the journey where the Earth's gravitational pull and the moon's pull canceled each other out. And, as we know, even shuttle astronauts in orbit a mere 250 miles from the Earth experience weightlessness.

Astronauts in orbit are still subject to Earth's gravity; but they (and the space craft) are constantly falling toward the Earth and thus are weightless. More recently, the term microgravity has been used to describe the weightless state in an orbiting spacecraft.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/15/2021)

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