A satellite is a space probe that is launched by a rocket and placed into orbit around Earth or another body. The first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957. Since then, thousands of satellites have been sent into space by dozens of countries.
Satellites travel at different speeds depending on their altitude and mission. For example, the International Space Station orbits at about 17,150 miles per hour, while the Hubble Space Telescope zips along at about 547 miles per hour.
Most people don’t realize how fast satellites travel. They orbit the earth at around 17,000 miles per hour! That’s faster than a bullet train!
And because they are so far away from us, it can take up to 20 minutes for signals to reach them from Earth. So the next time you see a satellite in the sky, remember that it’s zipping around at breakneck speed!
How Fast Do Satellites Travel around the Earth
Satellites are amazing feats of engineering. They orbit around the Earth at incredible speeds, up to 17,500 miles per hour! But how do they manage to stay in orbit?
It all has to do with gravity. The force of gravity keeps satellites in orbit around the Earth. As long as the satellite is moving fast enough, it will keep orbiting and never fall back down to the ground.
The speed a satellite needs to maintain its orbit depends on how high up it is orbiting. The higher up it is, the faster it needs to go to balance out the pull of gravity. GPS satellites, for example, orbit about 12,550 miles above the Earth’s surface.
They travel at a speed of about 7,000 miles per hour. That may seem fast, but it’s actually pretty slow compared to some other objects in space! The moon orbits around Earth at a speed of 2,288 miles per hour, and some comets can travel even faster than that!
How Fast are the Fastest Satellites?
The speed of a satellite is determined by its altitude. The higher the satellite’s orbit, the faster it will travel. For example, the International Space Station orbits at an altitude of about 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth’s surface and completes one orbit every 92 minutes.
This works out to be about 27,600 kilometers per hour (17,100 miles per hour). However, satellites can orbit much higher than this. The record for the highest altitude achieved by a man-made object is held by the Helios 2 solar probe, which reached an apogee (highest point in its orbit) of 1.5 million kilometers (almost 1 million miles) from Earth’s surface in 1976.
At this height, Helios 2 was traveling at a speed of around 70,000 kilometers per hour (43,500 miles per hour). There are also artificial satellites that have been sent to explore our solar system beyond Earth. The Juno spacecraft , for example, is currently orbiting Jupiter at an altitude of almost 5 million kilometers (3 million miles).
As a result, Juno is whizzing around Jupiter at over 130,000 kilometers per hour (80,000 miles per hour)!
At What Speed Do Satellites Travel around the Earth?
Satellites orbit the Earth at different altitudes and speeds. The altitude is the distance from the center of the Earth to the satellite, and is measured in kilometers. The speed is how fast the satellite moves around the Earth, and is measured in kilometers per second.
The average altitude of a satellite is 36,000 kilometers. For example, the International Space Station orbits at an altitude of 400 kilometers. Geostationary satellites orbit at an altitude of 35,786 kilometers.
The speed of a satellite depends on its altitude. A satellite orbiting closer to the Earth will move faster than a satellite orbiting further away from the Earth. For example, a geostationary satellite has to orbit at exactly the same speed as the rotation of the Earth (which is about 1670 kilometers per hour).
But if a satellite’s orbit was just slightly higher or lower, it would slowly drift out of position. A typical low Earth orbit satellites moves at 27,000 kilometers per hour, which is about 7 times faster than a commercial jetliner!
Do Satellites Move Faster Than Planes?
No, satellites do not move faster than planes. In fact, they orbit at a much slower speed. While the average commercial airliner travels around 500-600 mph, satellites orbiting Earth travel at approximately 17,000 mph.
However, because they are so far away from Earth, it can take days or weeks for them to make one complete orbit.
Can you feel the speed at which the ISS travels?
Satellites orbit the Earth at different speeds, depending on their altitude. The International Space Station, for example, orbits at about 17,150 miles per hour, while GPS satellites orbit at around 12,000 miles per hour.