Well, to be in space you most likely will need to
be orbiting the earth, and this turns out to be a
very important part of the answer.
As you shoot the bullet, it travels about 2,000
miles per hour away from you, towards the earth.
But, to be in orbit, you are already moving 17,000
miles per hour around the earth.
If you shot the bullet straight down at the
earth below you, the total speed of the bullet
would be around 17,117 miles per hour. Not much
faster than before you shot the bullet.
Going this fast most of the bullet will most
likely burn up in the atmosphere. Any part of
it that doesn't burn up will be traveling at the
bullets terminal velocity, a measly 31 miles per
hour, three times slower than a professional
baseball pitcher can throw.
That depends on whether you are in orbit around
the Earth or not. If you are in orbit, then
you are also moving over the Earth's surface, just
as you are when flying an airplane. The bullet
would not go straight down, since it would have
the forward motion of your orbit in addition to
the downward motion of being fired. Depending
on how high you are orbiting, the bullet might not
even hit the Earth, and in fact create a new
If you weren't in orbit, then the bullet would
just go downwards. Either way, something as small
as a bullet entering through Earth's atmosphere
would probably burn up before it reached the
The path of the bullet would depend on the
direction the rifle was aimed. If aimed
directly to the center of the Earth for example it
would simply plunge into the Earth. If it was
aimed at right angles to a line connecting Earth’s
center and the rifle, then the orbit would depend
on the initial velocity that is the bullet’s exit
speed. If fast enough, the bullet could go into a
circular or elliptical closed orbit around Earth.
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