So, are you a fan of sci-fi movies or TV shows? Are you interested in complex physics and love the idea of traveling to distant planets and galaxies? Does the prospect of interstellar travel make you excited? Many of us dream of a future in which humans can travel anywhere in the universe. Thankfully, that future is only getting closer.
Recently, space travel technology has seen a boom in funding and innovation. Elon Musk and his team at SpaceX keep breaking record after record. Other billionaires, including Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, are also trying to build better, cheaper, and faster rockets. This competition has come to be known as the “Billionaire Space Race.”
What’s the Fastest Thing We’ve Sent Into Space?
What you’re probably wondering is how fast we’ve been able to travel in space so far. Answering this question is actually more complicated than you might think. The correct answer depends on whether you’re referring to manned or unmanned rockets and spacecraft. Generally, uncrewed spaceships can travel at a much greater speed than crewed ones. That’s because they are lighter and are not intended to take safety measures into account.
The Fastest Spacecraft
On the 12th of August 2018, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe into space aboard the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. The probe will circle Venus 7 times, using the planet’s gravitational field to slingshot itself towards the Sun. By 2024, it’s projected to reach a maximum speed of 430,000 mph (692,000 km/h).
As of the 27th of September 2020, the Parker Solar Probe has already accelerated to a speed of 289,927 mph (466,592 km/h) relative to the Sun, officially becoming the fastest spacecraft to date. Sometime in 2025, it will also become the first human-made object to “touch” the Sun, getting only 6.9 million km or 4.3 million miles away from the star’s center.
The Fastest Crewed Mission
Surprisingly, the fastest manned mission record still belongs to Apollo 10, which took place back in May 1969. During its return from the Moon, the crew’s vehicle reached a speed of 24,791 mph (39,897 km/h). This mission’s success enabled Apollo 11 to land on the Moon just a few months later.
SpaceX and the Journey to Mars
On the 4th of March 2021, SpaceX’s Starship completed its third high-altitude flight test, following two previous tests during which the prototypes crashed and exploded at landing. Although it’s currently far from being able to complete a journey into outer space, the Starship will supposedly be able to reach Mars someday.
The Starship’s final model will require six rocket engines and a separate rocket booster called the Super Heavy to reach orbit. These will enable it to develop a speed of over 17,000 mph (approximately 27,000 km/h).
SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk has stated that he intends to get humans on Mars by 2026. The audacious journey will take somewhere between six and eight months to complete. The Starship will need to reach around 25,000 mph (approximately 40,000 km/h) and escape Earth’s gravitational pull to reach the planet. If that happens, the first manned mission to Mars will likely break Apollo 10’s long-standing record.
One More Thing
Although we don’t know when humans will set foot on Mars, one thing is certain: we live in exciting times. However, having to wait for the next breakthrough in space travel is boring, so why not have some fun while you’re doing it? Check out the best Playtech casinos and try your luck at some of the most popular online games. You might win a special prize that will take you to the Moon!