Know It All: What’s the Fastest Speed Ever Achieved By a Human Being?

We all want to get from Point A to Point B faster. But do you know the vehicular speeds of which our world is capable? Buckle up and get familiar.

Everybody has that moment when they realize they don’t know about something that they should probably know about. Whether it’s history, language, science, or cultural phenomena, you’ve felt the stinging personal embarrassment of a moment wherein you realize there’s some common knowledge that isn’t so common. Don’t feel bad; nobody knows everything. Nobody, that is, except me and my sidekick, The Internet!

Somewhere in the world, a confused soul begs the question…

What’s the fastest speed ever achieved by a human being?

We all want to get from Point A to Point B faster. We bemoan the shortcomings of conveyances that still aren't up to the speeds we feel we deserve (Amtrak vs. the Japanese Maglev, for example). But are you familiar with the specific vehicular speeds of which our world is capable? Other than the occasional “some engineers in the desert set a new land speed record, this week” report, we rarely talk about this subject despite the fact that everyone is interested in it.

So, just in terms of numbers, how fast is the fastest ever?

[Note: only speeds attained by vehicles/objects containing human beings are being considered – unmanned NASA space probes do not count because robots have no emotions.]

On the ground, the fastest speed clocked by a human being was 760 face-melting miles per hour. In 1997 in the Nevada desert, Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green broke the sound barrier in a British-built jet-propelled car dubbed the ThrustSSC. The 54-foot vehicle had as much power as the F-4 Phantom II fighter jet and this “car” had a fuel efficiency that worked out to roughly .04 miles per gallon (it consumed nearly 5 gallons per second).

In the air, the record belongs to the US Air Force’s X-15 jet, which reached speeds of Mach 6.72. Translation? 4520 miles per hour. If you need a point of reference for this astronomical figure, I’ve got it for you: at that speed, you could circumnavigate the globe in just over 100 minutes. It should be pointed out that the X-15 flew at altitudes of over 300,000 feet which technically means its record-setting runs qualify as spaceflights (the pilots were rewarded astronaut wings) but we can’t compare anything to our final entry on the list…

When it comes to vehicles built for space travel, the speed record is staggering. Upon re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere on May 26, 1969, the Apollo 10 Lunar Module reached speeds of 24,791 miles per hour. (Hang on, let me pick up the pieces of my exploded brain… okay.) If NASA was capable of effectively maintaining that sort of speed with their spacecrafts, they could reach the Moon in the time it would take you to travel from Los Angeles to London (around 10 hours). No peanuts on the spaceflight, though.

Now you know.

Justin Brown is a writer and artist living in Virginia. He channels most of his nonsensical enthusiasm into making things for his Etsy shop, Artness ! by Justin Brown. You can keep up to date with him, his worldly  adventures, and his dogs by following him on Instagram.

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  • Kurt

    “at that speed, you could circumnavigate the globe in just over 100 minutes.”

    Nope, do the math again. I think you confused Earth’s diameter with circumference.

    • PK

      There is always one cunt!!

      • PKisignorant

        How does that make him a cunt? He’s right… It makes a big difference in terms time taken and makes it much less impressive.

        Then again, judging by your comment you’re probably not the sharpest tool in the shed.

      • James Allen

        And there’s always hundreds of idiots that don’t have anything Better to do than belittle people just because they’re right. I take it you would rather read a whole bunch of false statements just make yourself even more stupid. NOPE not to date my lamen shit-talker

  • Justin Brown

    You’re right, I don’t know what I was thinking about, there.

    The circumference of the Earth at the Equator is 24,901.55 miles. If you were traveling at 4520 miles per hour, it would take you 5.5 hours to fly around the world. Rookie mistake.
    .-= Justin Brown´s last blog ..image-ination: 10.17.09If he wanted, I think God could grate… =-.

    • Diego Duarte

      Well, if you consider that the X-15 flew at altitudes of over 300,000 feet, not on land over the equator, this time 5.5 hours would yet be considerably increased with added circumference length at that height!

      • Arachnid-man

        If you think about it, it’s an extra 100 miles or so added to the diameter so an extra 300 added to the overall distance of almost 25000 miles at 4500 miles an hour. So instead of 5.509 hours it’s 5.567 hours, or instead of 330 minutes it’s 334. An extra 4 minutes.

        • Boomchacle

          But close to the surface, it would not be able to fly as fast because of the ridiculous air resistance at sea level.

          • Arachnid-man

            Close enough to the surface and it wouldn’t be flying at all.

            I was refering to Diego’s point about increasing the circumference Justin gave, due to it flying 300,000 feet above the surface, making the journey take considerably longer. It only equates to an extra 4 minutes, because a lot of feet isn’t that many miles. Especially when travelling so quickly.

            But Diego was right, you should take flight height into account, it just didn’t affect the time as much as he suggested due to the ridiculous speed.

  • TJ

    I don’t think you meant lunar module. I think you meant command module.

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  • http://TheSR-71BlackBird! David P.Curcione( Google Busineses Reports Reporter

    1. The SR-71 Black Bird did hit Speed Worlds Record of Mack-3.00 + is 2286 Miles Per Hour too! Fastest Record in 12 /05/1976 A.D. too!!!Speed Record too! True!

  • Fuck that shit :D

    That’s about the speed i fuck women.

    • Rasheim Crash McGraw

      You mean the speed you cum?

      • Mathai Thomas

        Do you really understand the sceice facts?

      • Michael Holcombe

        That was the funniest pervebial slap in the face I’ve ever heard in 43 yrs I’ve been on this planet. Thumbs up

    • lol


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  • John Taschke

    You could also age 999/1000 as fast as everyone else on earth.

  • PaulK

    The problem when considering human space travel, though, is that even with a speed of 24,791 miles / hour it is still 27,352 times slower than the speed of light. In perspective, therefore, if we think about travelling to the nearest planet which is regarded as being able to support life, Tau Ceti e, it would take us 11.9 (light years) x 27352 = 325,488 years. Quite a journey, then, unless we can improve our speed exponentially.

  • Mo Jo Rising

    I guess when they figure out how to harness nuclear powered propulsion space craft AND learn / engineer to fly around drone space craft then this figure of 24,000 mph will be a joke. Drone / remote controlled aircraft taking the ‘humans’ out would allow for the craft to move faster with out crushing a human being due to G forces. I’ll give them another 100 years to reach that kind of engineering – – that is if people don’t annihilate each other due to our skin colors, ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, etc. etc. etc. being so different.