How Long Does it Take To Get to the Moon?

The average distance between the Moon and the Earth is 238,857 miles.
The average distance between the Moon and the Earth is 238,857 miles.

For us to fully grasp how long it takes to get to the Moon, it is vital to understand the distance between the Moon and the Earth. The average distance between the Moon and the Earth is 238,857 miles. The figures give the average distance because different variables make the distance between the Earth and the Moon to differ from one phase to another, hence affecting how long it takes to get to the Moon. The Moon naturally orbits the Earth in an elliptical path, because of this, sometimes Moon is closer or farther away from Earth, which in turn greatly affects how long it may take to get to the Moon. Different countries have organized missions and traveled to the Moon and the time taken for all the missions have varied considerably.

Unmanned Missions

These are endeavors to the Moon without the physical presence of people onboard to control the movements of the spacecraft. One of the slowest yet advanced missions to the Moon was by the ESA’s SMART-1 which took the longest time ever recorded of one year, one month and two weeks using an ion-propelled engine. The second unmanned mission was the Chang’e-1 which took five days. Chang’e-2 followed on October 1st, 2010 taking four days and 16 hours before arriving in lunar orbit. The next mission launch took place at the end of 2013 becoming the fastest Change mission arriving in the lunar orbit after only four days and 12 hours and 23 minutes.

Manned Missions

With the presence of people onboard, manned missions have been taking a relatively short time to reach the Moon from the Earth's surface. The Apollo mission is the only Moon mission that was manned with renowned astronauts being the first beings to ever set foot on the lunar surface. The Apollo 11 mission took 51 hours and 49 minutes to arrive on the lunar surface back on July 19th, 1969, hence becoming the fastest spacecraft mission to the Moon that had astronauts who then took 1,376 minutes to return.

Fastest Recorded Missions to Date

NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission was the fastest ever mission that went past the Moon. With a speedy launch that utilized the advanced technological systems, it took the New Horizon 515 minutes to arrive on the lunar surface before venturing on to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. A mission was in 2014 undertaken using a device called ‘Orion Capsule.' It managed to reach different orbits of the Earth and return in 270 minutes breaking significant records. Through calculations, this showed that the Orion mission could reach the lunar in approximately 12 hours after covering an average distance of 238,857 miles. As plans are underway for the creation of space tourism in future, taking into consideration how long it will take to reach the Moon is vital and the type of technologies that will be utilized to make the journey and experience enjoyable and safe.


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