List of vehicle speed records

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The following is a list of speed records for various categories of vehicles. In any category, as with many world records, there may be some dispute over the criteria for a record-setting event, the authority of the organization certifying the record, and the actual speed achieved. Note significant figures: unless otherwise indicated, trailing zeros to the left of a decimal point are not significant.

Land vehicles[edit]

ThrustSSC, which has held the land speed record since 15 October 1997
Sunswift IV, the world's fastest solar-powered land vehicle, during its world record run
VeloX3, the former world's fastest human-powered vehicle, is prepared for a run during the 2013 World Human Powered Speed Challenge

By type of vehicle[edit]

Category Speed (km/h) Speed (mph) Vehicle Operator Date Certifying entity References
Land speed record1 1,227.985 763.035 ThrustSSC Andy Green 15 Oct 1997 FIA [1]
Wheel-driven1 737.794 458.444 Vesco Turbinator Don Vesco 18 Oct 2001 FIA [2]
Motorcycle2 605.698 376.363 Ack Attack Rocky Robinson 25 Sep 2010 FIM [3]
Diesel-powered3 563.998 350.452 JCB DieselMax Andy Green 23 Aug 2006 FIA [2]
Electric-powered3 550.627 342.144 Venturi VBB-3 Streamliner Roger Schroer 19 Sep 2016 FIA [2]
Steam-powered3 238.679 148.308 Inspiration Don Wales 25 Aug 2009 FIA [2]
Wind-powered4 203.09 126.19 Ecotricity Greenbird Richard Jenkins 26 Mar 2009 NALSA [4]
Human-powered5 144.17 89.58 AeroVelo Eta Todd Reichert 17 Sep 2016 IHPVA [5]
Solar-powered6 91.332 56.751 Sky Ace TIGA Kenjiro Shinozuka 20 Aug 2014 GWR [6]
Radio-controlled car (rocket) 338.14 210.11 Black Knight Anthony Lovering 4 May 2016 GWR [7][8]
Radio-controlled car (battery) 325.12 202.02 RC Bullet Nic Case 25 Oct 2014 GWR [9][10]
Tracked vehicle 82.23 51.10 S2000 Scorpion Peacekeeper 26 Jan 2002 GWR [11]
1.^ Average over two subsequent runs in opposite directions over a 1 mile (1.6 km) course, with flying start[12]
2.^ Average over 1 kilometre (0.62 mi), with a flying start
3.^ Average over two subsequent runs in opposite directions over a 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) course, with flying start[12]
4.^ Average over three seconds
5.^ Unpaced on a level surface; average over 200 metres (660 ft), with flying start (For other cycling records, see cycling records)
6.^ For vehicles powered entirely by solar power, without batteries

By surface[edit]

Category Speed (km/h) Speed (mph) Vehicle Operator Date Certifying entity References
On ice 335.7 208.6 Audi RS 6 Janne Laitinen 9 Mar 2013 FIA [13]
On the Moon 18.0 11.2 Apollo 17 Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV-003) Eugene Cernan 31 Jul 1972 (unofficial) [14]
On Mars 0.18 0.11 Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with semi-autonomous control Jul 2004 GWR [15]

Rail vehicles[edit]

Lt. Col. John P. Stapp rides the rocket sled at Edwards Air Force Base
Category Speed (km/h) Speed (mph) Vehicle Operator Date Certifying entity References
Rocket sled 10,326 6,416 Super Roadrunner (unmanned) 29 Apr 2003 USAF [16]
Maglev rocket sled 1,019 633 USAF rocket sled (unnamed) (unmanned) 4 Mar 2016 USAF [17]
Rocket sled (manned) 1,017 632 Sonic Wind No. 1 John Stapp 10 Dec 1954 USAF [18]
Maglev train (manned) 603 375 SCMaglev L0 Series Shinkansen 21 Apr 2015 GWR [19]
Wheeled train 574.8 357.2 TGV POS V150 3 Apr 2007 [20][21]
Steam train 202.6 125.9 LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard Joseph Duddington and Thomas Bray 3 Jul 1938 [22][23][24]

Aircraft[edit]

North American X-15, the fastest manned rocket-powered aircraft
SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest manned air-breathing aircraft

Aircraft speed records are based on airspeed, rather than ground speed.

Category Speed (km/h) Speed (mph) Mach number7 Vehicle Pilot Date Certifying entity References
Unmanned aerial vehicle 21,245 13,201 ~20 HTV-2 (unmanned) 22 Apr 2010 (unofficial) [25]
Manned rocket-powered aircraft 7,270 4,520 6.7 North American X-15A-2 William J. Knight 3 Oct 1967 GWR [26][27]
Manned air-breathing craft 3,530 2,190 3.33 Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird
#61-7958
Eldon W. Joersz 28 Jul 1976 FAI [28]
Propeller-driven aircraft 870 540 0.82 Tupolev Tu-114 Ivan Soukhomline 1960 FAI [29][30]
Piston-engined propeller-driven aircraft 850.24 528.31 0.69 Grumman F8F Bearcat
Rare Bear
Lyle Shelton 21 Aug 1989 FAI [31][32]
Helicopter8 400.87 249.09 0.33 Westland Lynx 800
G-LYNX
John Egginton 11 Aug 1986 FAI [33]
Glider (sailplane)9 306.8 190.6 0.25 Schempp-Hirth Nimbus-4DM Klaus Ohlmann and Matias Garcia Mazzaro 22 Dec 2006 FAI [34]
Electric aircraft10 324.02 201.34 0.26 Rutan Long-EZ (N89CY) William M. Yates 23 Nov 2013 FAI [35]
Airship 115 71 0.09 Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik
LZ N07-100 (DLZFN)
Steve Fossett and Hans-Paul Ströhle 27 Oct 2004 FAI [36]
Human-powered aircraft 44.32 27.54 0.036 Musculair 2 Holger Rochelt 2 Oct 1985 FAI [37]
7.^ Mach number depends on ambient temperature, and thus altitude, as well as speed; it is not a direct measure of speed.
8.^ Unofficial helicopter speed records by the Sikorsky X2 (460 km/h on 15 September 2010) and the Eurocopter X3 (472 km/h on 7 June 2013) would surpass this record if accepted.
9.^ Average speed over an out-and-return course of 500 km
10.^ Over a 3-kilometer course

Watercraft[edit]

A model of the Spirit of Australia, which set the water speed record in 1978
Category Speed
(knots)
Speed
(km/h)
Speed
(mph)
Vehicle Operator Date Certifying entity References
Water speed record 275.98 511.11 317.59 Spirit of Australia Ken Warby 8 Oct 1978 UIM [38][39]
Propeller-driven water speed record 226.78 420.00 260.97 Problem Child Daryl Ehrlich 22 Nov 2009 IHBA
GWR
[40][41]
Wind-powered watercraft 65.45 121.21 75.32 Vestas Sailrocket 2 Paul Larsen 24 Nov 2012 WSSRC [42][43]
Hovercraft11 74.2 137.4 85.4 Universal UH19P Jenny II Bob Windt 1 Jan 1995 WHF
GWR
[44]
Human-powered watercraft 18.5 34.3 21.3 Decavitator Mark Drela 27 Oct 1991 IHPVA [45][46]
Human-powered submarine 8.035 14.881 9.247 Omer 5 Sebastien Brisebois and Joel Brunet 28 Jun 2007 ISR [47]
Ground effect vehicle12 (GEV) 350 650 400 Korabl Maket (Naval Prototype) "Caspian Sea Monster" ca. 1966–1980 (unofficial) [48]
Underwater vehicle There is no officially recognized speed record for underwater craft, due to the secretive nature of military vessels. In 1968, a Russian November class submarine reportedly tracked an American carrier group traveling at 31 knots (57 km/h; 36 mph).[49] Unmanned torpedo speed claims range from 60 knots (110 km/h; 69 mph) for the British Spearfish torpedo[50] to 200 knots (370 km/h; 230 mph) for the Russian VA-111 Shkval.[51]
11.^ Measured over 1 km with a flying start
12.^ Ground effect vehicles (a.k.a. "Wing-In-Ground effect vehicles") are classified as maritime ships, rather than aircraft, by the International Maritime Organization.[52]

Spacecraft[edit]

Apollo 10 command module Charlie Brown, the fastest manned vehicle relative to the Earth

In order to unambiguously express the speed of a spacecraft, a frame of reference must be specified. Typically, this frame will be fixed to the celestial body with the largest gravitational influence on the spacecraft, as this is the most relevant frame for most purposes.[53] Velocities in different frames of reference are not directly comparable; the matter of the "fastest spacecraft" depends on the reference frame. Because of the influence of gravity, maximum velocities are usually attained just after launch, at entry, or at time of closest approach to a massive body.

Relative to the Sun[edit]

Category Speed (km/h) Speed (mph) Vehicle Crew Date Certifying entity References
Speed relative to the Sun 252,792 157,078 Helios 2 (unmanned) 17 Apr 1976 NASA [54][55]

Relative to Earth[edit]

Category Speed (km/h) Speed (mph) Vehicle Crew Date Certifying entity References
Earth escape 58,536 36,373 New Horizons (unmanned) 19 Jan 2006 NASA [56]
Earth reentry 46,100 28,600 Stardust (unmanned) 15 Jan 2006 NASA [57]
Manned Earth reentry 39,897 24,791 Apollo 10 CSM Charlie Brown Thomas Stafford,
John W. Young,
and Eugene Cernan
26 May 1969 NASA [58]

Relative to Mars[edit]

Category Speed (km/h) Speed (mph) Vehicle Crew Date Certifying entity References
Mars atmospheric entry 27,000 17,000 Mars Pathfinder (unmanned) 4 July 1997 NASA [59]

Relative to Jupiter[edit]

Category Speed (km/h) Speed (mph) Vehicle Crew Date Certifying entity References
Jupiter orbit insertion 209,000 130,000 Juno (unmanned) 4 Jul 2016 NASA [60][53]
Deorbit (atmospheric entry) into Jupiter 173,736 107,955 Galileo (unmanned) 21 Sep 2003 NASA [61]

Relative to Saturn[edit]

Category Speed (km/h) Speed (mph) Vehicle Crew Date Certifying entity References
Closed orbit of Saturn 122,000 76,000 Cassini (unmanned) 27 Apr 2017 NASA [62]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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    "This large aircraft has flown at 650 km/h (350 knots) ..."

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