A spacecraft is a vehicle or machine that is designed to fly out into space. Spacecraft are used as an artificial satellite, for various purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, colonisation of space, planetary exploration, human and freight transport.
Which country owns them and how much fast they are?
Top 10 fastest space aircraft in the world
Parker Solar Probe (PSP)
Parker Solar Probe is a robotic NASA spacecraft launched in 2018 to explore and study the Sun’s outer corona regularly. It will approach the centre of the sun within 9.86 solar radii (6.9 million km or 4.3 million miles) and will travel as fast as 690,000 km/h (430,000 mph) or 0.064 % of the speed of light by 2025.
Helios 2 was launched in 1976 by Germany in a cooperative program with NASA. The Spacecraft Helios 2 was one of two experiments conducted to study solar processes. Its primary mission was to measure the interplant medium from the Earth’s orbit to 0.3 AU. The second spacecraft had better systems designed to help it survive longer. Helios 2 travelled closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft passing within 43.4 million km.
HELIOS 1 was launched in 1974. It was a joint German-American deep-space mission to investigate significant solar and photovoltaic-terrestrial interactions. In particular, the instruments of the spacecraft were designed to study phenomena such as solar wind, magnetic and electric fields, cosmic rays, and space dust in regions between earth orbit and around 0.3 AU from the Sun. Helios 1 travelled within 47 million km of the Sun at a speed of 238,000 km per hour on 15th March 1975.
Voyager 1 is a NASA space probe launched on 5th September 1977. Voyager 1 and his sister Voyager 2 flew longer than any spacecraft in history. The extended mission of Voyager 1 will continue until around 2025 when its thermo-electric radioisotope generation does not provide enough electricity to run its scientific equipment. Voyager 1 crossed a distance of 69 UA on 17th February 1998 and overtook Pioneer 10 as the world’s largest spacecraft. It has the fastest heliocentric recession speed of any spacecraft flying at around 17 km per second.
On 19th January 2006, an Atlas V rocket launched New Horizons directly from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station into an Earth-and-Solar escape trajectory at a speed of approximately 16.26 km/s. It was the fastest man-built object ever launched. New Horizons is a NASA mission to research the dwarf planet Pluto, its moons, and other bodies in the Kuiper Belt, a region of the solar system ranging from about 30 AU, near Neptune’s orbit to around 50 AU from the Earth.
Stardust was a 390 kg robotic space probe launched on 7th February 1999 by NASA. The main task was the collection of dust samples and samples of cosmic dust of comet Wild 2. This was the first sample return mission of its kind. The captured particulates were cast off in a re-entry capsule on 15th January 2006, parachuting into the earth and landing in the US military testing and training site close to Salt Lake City.
The Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) was one of two major components of the US Apollo spacecraft used for the Apollo program that landed on the moon between 1969 and 1972. Apollo 10 set the record its most high speed at 39,897 km/h.
Discovery Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle Discovery is one of NASA’s orbiters from space shuttle program and the third of five fully operational orbiters to be developed. The first mission, STS-41-D, was flown from 30th August to 5th September 1984. It was flown and landed 39 times over 27 years of service and recorded more space flights than any spacecraft so far. Just like any other low-earth orbits, a space shuttle must reach speeds of around 17,500 km/h to survive in orbit. Its maximum speed was 28,000 km/h.
Space Shuttle Columbia
It sent dozens of astronauts into space. The shuttle and its seven crew members were lost over Texas after Columbia burned down during the re-entry on 1st February 2003. The loss of Columbia led NASA to perform additional orbit security checks in all future missions. It accomplished 27 missions. The STS-107 was its 28th and last mission when it was destroyed. Its max speed was 28,000 km/h.
The X-43 was an experimental hypersonic unmanned spacecraft. It was included in the X-plane series and the Hyper-X program of NASA. There were several airspeed recordings for jet planes. The X-43 is the fastest aircraft recorded approximately at Mach 9.6.