In S1E2 "Water", the Battlestar's water tanks are sabotaged and water is blown out into space.

I was expecting the plot to be along the lines of how to retrieve this water. After all it must have frozen and be near the ship. That isn't mentioned, and the story is about hunting out a new source of water.

I've not found any comments behind this. Why did they need to seek a new source of water? Is it a plot hole, or am I missing something?

  • 3
    Water in space boils away and then sublimates into microscopic ice crystals. I have not seen this show you're talking about, but water lost to space is useless (unless they have technology to hang around and collect every bit?)
    – Mikey
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 20:08
  • 1
    There's very little friction in space, and the gravity of the fleet is way too tiny to decelerate the water appreciably. The water certainly wouldn't be near the ship, even if it froze (which it wouldn't) - momentum doesn't magically disappear with phase change. Water escaping from a pressurized environment into a vacuum would have quite some initial velocity, and it would spread out very quickly.
    – Luaan
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 9:37

2 Answers 2


Why would it be near the ship?
It would be travelling away, spreading wider as it went, at the same speed as when it blew out.

It would be a slightly more difficult task than throwing a handful of ball-bearings from the top of the Empire State Building, then running down to the street to go find them.

Let me add some weight to this initially rather flippant answer, which was based entirely on the misconception that the water would still be "right there".

  1. The initial explosion would have imparted some considerable velocity to the water.

  2. Liquid water [presumably initially at something like room temperature] when exposed to a vacuum will immediately boil away [violently], so now we're chasing after 'steam'.
    Think of steam pushing out of a kettle spout, but with no guided direction & a million times more powerful.

  3. That steam, now exposed to something approaching absolute zero or -273°C will almost instantly turn to ice.
  4. We now have microscopic ice, travelling at the initial velocity imparted by the blast, plus the additional velocity generated as it turned from liquid to gas, spreading outward in a vast, ever-expanding cloud.
    The speed will never decrease in a vacuum, as there is no friction to slow it down. It will stop when it hits something or is drawn into a gravity well, otherwise it will carry on pretty much forever.
  5. They do not have the resources to even attempt to go catch all that 'ice mist'.
  6. & this is a big 6. They are running from the Cylons. There's a war on & they are losing badly.
  • 5
    'slightly' more difficult? At least once the ball-bearings hit the ground, they stop moving (e.g. rolling) within a short time. Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 14:36
  • 1
    Off you go then... let's see how long it takes you :P (It's under-emphasis, for comedic effect, btw ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 14:44
  • Yeah - absolutely, and they'd have to work out how to catch this increasingly less dense expanding cloud of ice, and ferry it back to the ship.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 15:23
  • 4
    The phrase "knitting fog" springs to mind ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 15:24
  • 4
    On top of it being difficult to collect the escaping water, it would cost time (which they don't have b/c the Cyclons are chasing them) and fuel (increasingly more as the cloud expands and covers more space over time.) And since the water (now ice) pellets are constantly travelling at the speed they attained during the explosive decompression of the tank, there's also a chance they could damage any ships involved in the collection effort by causing micro punctures. Finding water elsewhere might be risky in itself, but at least the fleet can keep moving as one while they search.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 18:07

Because the cylons are coming.

If Galactica and the fleet stay in one place (or are in an easily predictable place) the cylons will find them and kill them. So they have to keep running, which means leaving the water behind.

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