What's the fastest space travel?

Nothing can travel faster than 300,000 kilometers per second (186, 000 miles per second). Only massless particles, including photons, that make up light, can travel at that speed. It is impossible to accelerate a material object to the speed of light because it would take an infinite amount of energy to do so. The closest star to Earth is Proxima Centauri.

It's about 4.25 light-years away, or about 25 trillion miles (40 trillion km). The fastest spacecraft in history, the Parker solar probe, now in space, will reach a maximum speed of 450,000 miles per hour. It would take just 20 seconds to get from Los Angeles to New York City at that speed, but it would take about 6,633 years for the solar probe to reach the nearest neighboring solar system to Earth. It's about 4.25 light-years away, or about 25 trillion miles (40 trillion kilometers).

Freeman Dyson, a member of the Orion Project team, proposed in 1968 an interstellar spacecraft that used nuclear pulse propulsion and that used fusion detonations of pure deuterium with a very high fraction of fuel consumption. Then, moving through space-time at your maximum speed of one meter per second, you could reach point B in about one second. Knowledge of the properties of the interstellar gas and dust through which the vehicle must pass is essential for the design of any interstellar space mission. Interstellar travel is the hypothetical journey of a spacecraft from one star system, lone star, or planetary system to another.

Interstellar travel is expected to be much more difficult than interplanetary space flights due to the large difference in the scale of the distances involved. However, they won't approach another star for hundreds of thousands of years, long after they've stopped operating (although, in theory, the Voyager Gold Disk could be reproduced in the unlikely event that an alien civilization recovers the spacecraft). Interstellar space is not completely empty; it contains trillions of icy bodies ranging from small asteroids (Oort cloud) to possible rogue planets. General relativity states that space and time are merged and that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

The crew of an interstellar ship would face several major dangers, including the psychological effects of prolonged isolation, the physiological effects of extreme acceleration (if it exceeded the acceleration of 1 g), the effects of exposure to ionizing radiation from space and possibly from the ship's engines, and the physiological effects of weightlessness on muscles, joints, bones, the immune system and eyes. A radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity thruster is a device that is claimed to be a spacecraft thruster. At that rate, it will be nearly three times faster than previous record holders, a pair of spaceships called Helios probes that studied the Sun in the 1970s. In this scheme, a 30-kilometer secondary sail is deployed at the rear of the spacecraft, while the large main sail is separated from the ship to continue moving forward on its own.

Based on work carried out between the late 1950s and early 1960s, it has been technically possible to build spaceships with nuclear impulse engines. In other words, a current impediment to the development of any spacecraft propelled by nuclear explosions is the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, which includes the prohibition of the detonation of any nuclear device (even not based on weapons) in outer space. Wormholes are conjectural distortions in space-time that, according to theorists, could connect two arbitrary points in the universe, through an Einstein-Rosen bridge. Several strategies have been proposed to address these problems, ranging from giant arks that would transport entire societies and ecosystems to microscopic space probes.


Jeannie Eschenbrenner
Jeannie Eschenbrenner

Devoted internet maven. Incurable zombie nerd. Hardcore travel aficionado. Incurable zombie evangelist. Hipster-friendly twitter advocate.