How Do You Fight In Zero Gravity? Here’s Everything You Need To Know.

astronaut

NASA/Take Two

It’s all around us, holding us down and holding us back: Gravity. But what if, in the middle of a fight, the shackles of gravity were cast away and we could finally kick some ass while floating? It’d open whole new vistas of fighting, as we see in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!

And it would be much, much harder than you’d think. Turns out, to kick ass you need gravity more than you realize.

In Space, Nobody Can Hear You Shoot

Let’s start with guns. Most guns will actually fire in a zero-g environment, with or without oxygen. That’s because “smokeless powder” uses an oxidizer as standard issue; it creates the gases that force out the bullet, so you don’t need any oxygen to cause a reaction. Not that you’d need powder; any strong force pushing the projectile in one direction will do it. In space, even a BB gun can be bad, bad news with enough pumps behind it.

And, actually, a lot of rules and problems go out the window when you fight in low-atmosphere low-gravity environments. Guns will shoot straighter, with less bullet drop, and bullets will travel further and retain more of their momentum. Take air resistance out of the equation and your bullet can travel forever, meaning you could actually use a pistol like a sniper rifle.

Remember, though, that your reaction time will be limited: Sound waves need air to travel in, so essentially you wouldn’t know what was happening until you actually got shot or saw a bullet whiz past you. In a fire fight, you’d need to be able to see your opponent and read his body language to make sure a bunch of bullets weren’t coming your way.

How Do You Get A Fist Through The Helmet?

But say you’re out of ammo, and you’ve got to wade in with fists, feet, and whatever objects come to hand. Well, then… things get weird. The referee of this particular match is Newton, and landing any sort of hit, even a minor one, is tougher than you might think.

When you punch something on Earth, gravity is holding it, and you, in place so you can serve that knuckle sandwich. Take that away and essentially, any sort of punch is throwing your opponent away from you while shoving you away from your opponent. So, to hit somebody, you need to apply two forces: One that keeps your opponent in place or forces them towards your attack, and the attack force itself. This might sound familiar if you’ve ever seen a hockey fight; hockey enforcers need to hold onto each other to land a solid punch.

However, there are new vistas of incapacitating your opponent if you get creative. For example, the old Superman trick of throwing somebody off the planet would actually work in zero-g; a good hard shove with your legs would send them flying off into space. Alternatively, mess with their balance; grab them and spin them as fast as possible until they’re disoriented. Or until they’re barfing, either works. Or if you wanted to get really nasty, put their center of mass in a spin, and then grab an arm or a leg and keep it from going with them. A dislocated limb tends to take the fight out of people.

In short, you should stick with the guns, until you get to a nice, safe environment with artificial gravity and actual atmosphere. Then you can start punching people.

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