Two spaceships are observed from earth to be approaching each other along a straight line. Ship A moves at 0.40c relative to the earth observer, while ship B moves at 0.60c relative to the same observer. What speed does the captain of ship A report for the speed of ship B?

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he first thing to point out is that the observer on the Earth sees the two spaceships approach each other at 0.9c. In fact if their velocities had been 0.75c and 0.85c the observer on the Earth would have seen them approach each other at 1.6c. This does not violate the principle of relativity as neither of them move with a velocity greater than c relative to the Earth.

Speed = [v_{ao} + v_{bo}]/(1 + v_{ao} x v_{bo}/c^{2}) Speed = [0.40c + 0.50c]/(1 + ( 0.40c x 0.50c)/c^{2})

Relative approach speed = 0.75c

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