People love speed. The rush, the adrenaline, the weightlessness – there are so many reasons why thrill-junkies are always trying to push the boundaries and break the speed records. Whether its in a plane, train, or automobile, someone is willing to risk their life for that coveted “World Record.”
This list isn’t of the fastest man-made things (the Large Hadron Collider that blasts particles together would probably hold that record) but rather the fastest vehicles. The list is divided into categories, including manned and unmanned land vehicles, aircrafts, water vehicles, and space crafts.
13) Submersible – Soviet Submarine K-222 (51.4 mph)
The Soviet Project 661 Anchar class K-222 (it is known as “Papa” in the West) is the fastest submarine in the world. It was finished being built in December 28, 1963, designed to be an extremely fast attack sub, and it was also the first submarine built with a titanium hull. Originally it was named the K-162, but it was renamed in 1978. It was first commissioned on December 31, 1969, and reached a record underwater speed of 44.7 knots, or 51.4 mph. The boat was placed on reserve in 1988, and dismantled on March 5, 2010.
12) Snowmobile – G-Force-1 (211.5 mph)
The G-Force Division has always been obsessed with breaking records, and they did that again in 2013. The snowmobile (or, to be appropriate, the snow rocket) G-Force-1 broke the former 210.8 mph record on the wide open salt flats at Bonneville’s landspeed shootout, reaching a top speed of 211.5 mph. There were SCM an ISR officials there to certify the record.
11) Production Car – Hennessey Venom GT (270.49 mph)
Surprisingly, an American car holds the land-speed record for production cars. The Hennessey Venom GT was manufactured by Texas-based Hennessey Performance Engineering. The car was revealed on March 29, 2010. The car is a modified Lotus Exige, and on February 14, 2014, at the Kennedy Space Center’s 3.22-mile shuttle port, it broke the record with a top speed of 270.49 mph, just beating out the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport’s record of 269.86 mph. It was driven by Brian Smith, the Director of Miller Motorsport Park. The car is also the world’s unofficial fastest accelerating car, going from 0-200 mph in just 14.51 seconds.
10) Helicopter – Eurocopter X3 (302 mph)
In theory, the fastest speed a rotor helicopter can go before spinning out of control is just over 250 mph. The Eurocopter X3 proved this theory wrong on June 7, 2013, by reaching a top-speed 293 mph cruising speed and a top descent speed of 302 mph. Both of these speeds hold over the previous record-holder, the Sikorsky X2, which had a speed of 287.7 mph in 2010. The Eurocopter X3 is a compound, experimental and revolutionary “hybrid tilt-rotor” aircraft.
9) Boat – Spirit of Australia (317.596 mph)
Trying to set a speed record atop water is an extremely dangerous endeavor because a single wake or rogue wave can send a boat out of control and end in disaster. Tragedies have happened numerous times since the water speed record was set by Ken Warby on October 8, 1978. His wooden boat, the Spirit of Australia, powered by a Westingjouse J34 jet engine (used mainly for jet fighters) broke the record on the Tumut River in Australia. Its speed of 275.97 knots, or 317.596 mph has stayed at the top for over 40 years.
8) Train – Maglev MLX01 (361 mph)
The Superconducting Maglev is a magnetic levitation train system developed by the Central Japan Railway Company and the Railway Technical Research Institute. The MLX01, one of the latest designs of Maglev trains in Japan, reached a maximum speed of 361 mph in December 2003, making it the fastest manned train and rail vehicle in the world. The MLX01 is a levitational train, and since it doesn’t have wheels, that might be considered cheating – or it might not even be considered a train at all – but if it looks like a train and quacks like a train, we’re calling it a train.
7) Motorcycle – TOP 1 Ack Attack (394.084 mph)
The TOP 1 Ack Attack is a specially constructed streamliner motorcycle that broke the record for the world’s fastest motorcycle on September 25, 2010. During the Cook Motorsport’s Top Sped Shootout at Bonneville Speedway, Utah, the Ack Attack reached a two-way average speed of 376.363 mph, and an official one-way speed of 394.084 mph. This was the third time in four years that the 900-horse power Ack Attack had broken the motorcycle land-speed record. Rocky Robinson drove the motorcycle at all three record-breaking events.
6) Rocket-Powered Car – ThrustSSC (763 mph)
The ThrustSSC is a British jet-propelled supersonic car developed by Richard Noble, Glynne Bowsher, Ron Ayers, and Jeremy Bliss. It broke the land-speed record on October 15, 1997, when it hit a speed of 763 mph and became the first car to officially break the sound barrier. Royal Air Force fighter pilot, Wing Commander Andy Green, drove the car in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The car burned over 4.8 US gallons per second, and the two afterburning Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engines produced a power output of 110,000 brake horsepower.
5) Manned Plane – North American X-15 (4,519 mph)
The North American X-15 was a rocket-powered aircraft operated by the US Air Force and NASA as part of an experimental aircraft series. On October 3, 1967, the X-15 set a speed record for a manned, powered plane by reaching 4,519 mph, and it has kept the title since. It was piloted by William J. “Pete” Knight. The plane was retired in December of 1970. During the X-15 program, 13 flights by eight pilots have exceeded altitudes of 50 miles and reached the edge of outer space, qualifying the pilots as astronauts and the plane as a spaceflight vehicle by the Air Force spaceflight criterion. The plane returned with valuable data used for future aircraft and spacecraft designs.
4) Rocket Sled – Unmanned (6,416 mph)
Rocket sleds are used as test platforms for rockets. As the name implies, they do not use wheels, but rather sliding pads called “slippers,” and they slide along a set of rails. In 2003, an unnamed rocket-powered sled became the fastest vehicle ever recorded on land, accelerating to Mach 8.5 and reaching a top speed of 6,416 mph. The acceleration maxed out at 157 g’s, which is 52 times greater than the g-force experienced during a shuttle launch. The 2003 test was devised as a simulation of a warhead interception by the Air Force.
3) Unmanned Plane – HTV-2 Falcon (13,201 mph)
The Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 is a crewless, experimental rocket glider. It was developed for the DARPA Falcon Project, and reached a speed of 13,201 mph. It is used to test technologies that would provide the US with the capability to strike any target in the world within one hour. The first HTV-2 launch was on April 22, 2010, but contact was lost with the vehicle within nine minutes. The second launch, on August 11, 2011, had the vehicle again losing contact within about nine minutes of its 30-minute Mach 20 test run. It purposely impacted into the Pacific Ocean as a safety precaution. DARPA does not plan to conduct a third flight test.
2) Manned Spacecraft – Apollo 10 (24,790 mph)
Apollo 10 was the fourth manned mission in the US Apollo space program. It was to be used as a rehearsal for the Apollo 11, to test the procedures of a Moon landing without actually landing on the Moon. Apollo 10 holds the 2002 Guinness World Record for highest speed attained by a manned vehicle, at 24,791 mph, during the return from the Moon on May 26, 1969. There have been faster probes, but for a manned spacecraft, Apollo 10 is still holds the record. Thomas Stafford, John Young, and Eugene Cernan were the only three crewmembers.
1) Unmanned Spacecraft – Helios 2 (157,078 mph)
The Helios 2 is a space probe and the fastest man-made vehicle on the planet. It was launched into orbit to study solar processes, along with the Helios 1. The ridiculous speed of 157,078 mph (or 43.63 mi/s) is not the only significant record that the spacecraft holds. The Helios 2 also flew three million kilometers closer to the Sun than Helios 1, achieving a record distance of 0.29 AU (43.432 million kilometers) away from the Sun, and slightly inside Mercury’s orbit. The Helios probes completed their primary missions in the early 1980s, but kept sending data up until 1985. The probes are no longer functional, but they still remain in their elliptical orbit around the Sun!