It's NASA versus sci-fi in 'Fastest Ship in the Universe' smackdown

From Voyager 1 to the Tardis, see how speedy the universe's most famous transportation vessels are in this engaging new infographic.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

And the winner is? Kind of improbable... FatWallet

It might come as no surprise that the "Star Wars" spacecraft the Millennium Falcon is faster than anything ever made by NASA. Still, a new chart put out by shopping site FatWallet (see below) is nonetheless a fascinating overview of how various spaceships from the space agency and from the world of sci-fi match up in terms of speed.

The chart (why it's put out by a shopping site is anyone's guess), breaks some of the most popular spacecraft into two categories: those that can't go faster than light and those that can.

In the first category, the ships are ranked in terms of G-force, the force exerted on an object (like R2D2) by acceleration. They range from NASA's Voyager 1, which has zero Gs, to a "Star Wars" TIE Fighter, at 4,100 Gs. Included in this list are such treats as the escape pod used by Kal-El (aka Superman) to flee his doomed home planet of Krypton; a Cylon Raider from "Battlestar Galactica;" and the Serenity from the much-missed TV show "Firefly."

The second category on the chart measures the speed of spacecraft in terms of Cs, or the speed of light (one C would equal 186,282 miles per second). Of course, the faster-than-light ships in this section are all fictional, as NASA hasn't quite figured out how to propel us faster than light just yet. The "Star Trek" ships are well represented here -- including the Borg Cube -- as are spacecraft from "Star Wars." But none of them hold the title of "Fastest Ship in the Universe."

The Tardis from "Dr. Who" nearly grabs that title with its 10 quadrillion Cs of speed, but it's edged out by the Heart of Gold from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Because really, what's faster than an Infinite Improbability Drive?

For the details on how the folks at FatWallet figured out all the speeds, you can zoom on over to their blog post here.