Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Spacetravel How fast...??
Name: helen
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A

How fast can our most advanced space faring vehicles travel?

Maximum speed for rockets is roughly whatever the exhaust velocity is - since everything we have put into space so far depends on chemical reactions for propulsion, that limits things to not much more than escape velocity from the solar system - somewhere around 25,000 miles per hour. There are lots of proposals for getting space vehicles to go much faster than that, but so far nobody's actually put one together yet. Many of these proposals rely on nuclear energy, which people are still very afraid to actually use. Other techniques include using light (from a very strong laser) to propel a sail-like spaceship. To some extent, they all require either a very large initial cost or some kind of technology beyond what we currently have available.

Arthur Smith

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory