Which Sci-Fi Ship Is The Fastest?

fb share tweet share

TARDISFrom Serenity to Prometheus; from the Millennium Falcon to the U.S.S Enterprise; have you ever wondered which spaceship from science fiction is the fastest? Most star ships in science fiction are quite speedy, so the characters can get from one place to the next without missing a beat. Now the good people at Slate have put together a very impressive list, pitting many famous spaceships against each other in a race for hyperspace bragging rights. The results may surprise you. Although there are some inconsistencies in various science fiction mythologies, the list is based on computer simulations and fan speculation.

The starting point for all of the ships is Earth, and their include Alpha Centauri, which is the closest star to Earth at 4.2 light years away, and the Andromeda Galaxy, which is about 2.5 million light years away.

It seems like the fastest vessels in all of science fiction are the TARDIS from Doctor Who and the Heart of Gold from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The travel time for both is almost instantaneous. They have the ability to travel from one end of the galaxy to another in mere seconds, if that. The Heart of Gold runs on the infinite improbability drive, which is “a wonderful new method of crossing vast interstellar distances in a mere nothingth of a second,” according to Douglas Adams.

The runner-up is, surprisingly, the Planet Express Ship from Futurama. It runs on Nibbler-produced dark matter and pulls the Universe around it, rather than traveling through space itself, at 200 percent fuel efficiency. One of the benefits of being a package delivery service is having one of the speediest spaceships in the Universe.

According to Slate, the slowest spaceships in science fiction are the Jupiter 2 from TV’s Lost In Space and the Serenity from Firefly. As shown in the episode “Out of Gas,” Serenity wasn’t built for long, interstellar trips.

You can check out the complete list of speedy spaceships, with a pretty nifty interactive infographic, over at Slate.


  1. Is it just me, or they re-written the rules in the new Star Trek movies? The Enterprise seems to be able to scoot around the place a look quicker than before…

    • JT says:

      Yep. Warp is now nearly instantaneous, basically. It seems like they tried to make it more like Star Wars… which is kind of what they’ve done to everything Star Trek. Probably because when he made it, JJ Abrams wished he was directing Star Wars. Now he is, so maybe they’ll give Star Trek to someone who actually likes it.

      • lawrencejob says:

        Warp was always instantaneous; the only reason it didn’t appear so is the limited understanding of physics during the writing of the original movies.

        As soon as the warp bubble is created, the ship should disappear. When moving in/out of warp, the ship doesn’t actually accelerate or even move. The bubble essentially surrounds the ship, at which point it would be seen to disappear.

        That said, I do cringe when I watch the 2009 movie (the best representation yet) when the ship is shown to stretch and rumble a bit (as a result of Sulu forgetting to disengage the inertial dampeners). I also briefly cringed when, in the IMAX cut of the 2013 film, the ship’s nacelles started to trail blue crystals – this was clearly an exercise in ‘making something look really pretty and showing off the fact I can direct 3D stuff,’ but got distracted as I realised how pretty it was.

        For the record, this is real-life physics I’m using – not Trekphysics. I do this because I think Star Trek (even in the early days) intended to represent real physics as accurately as possible.

        Interestingly, Star Wars uses something called hyperdrive: this works by taking interdimensional shortcuts. I’ll explain if you’re interes-

        … I tried explaining this to my girlfriend once over dinner. Apparently there are more effective ways to seduce a woman.

  2. WillieB says:

    I thought the Heart of Gold was faster than the TARDIS due to it was at every spot in the universe at once with its improbability drive.

    • Bapman says:

      TARDIS can time travel remember? So it can actually arrive in the instant right after it left 🙂
      Heart of Gold takes that little extra time ’cause it does has to decide and then it ends up … well … ending … where it wanted to … end up.

    • DAVID WALSTON says:

      The TARDIS can Arrive before it even left!

      • lawrencejob says:

        Interesting: it depends on the perspective. To the pilot, the TARDIS can be quite slow..

  3. lawrencejob says:

    Oh. The errors. The inaccuracies. The woe…

  4. Bapman says:

    There’s the new Battlestar Galactica … but no White Star from Babylon 5? No Moya from Farscape and no Daedalus from Stagate? -sigh-