If you asked, most science fiction fans could probably name their favorite spaceships from television or cinema. Whether it’s the USS Enterprise or an Imperial Star Destroyer, they’re all pretty equal on the imaginative scale.
However, when it comes to sheer speed, there are some fictional spaceships that are clearly faster than others.
First introduced in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, the Milano has become such an iconic part of the team that Marvel has brought the ship to other media like TV shows and comics.
Named after Peter Quill’s childhood crush Alyssa Milano, the Milano is a Ravager M-Ship. Although it was originally used for hunting and scouting, Quill modified the ship heavily over the years. Quill used it to establish his reputation as an intergalactic thief, so he needed to add a few tricks.
The exact speed of the Milano is hard to pinpoint with a specific number. However, we do know that the Milano is capable of making multiple jumps through time and space. As seen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it can jump from planet to planet in a matter of seconds. According to an estimate from Inverse, those jumps work out to traveling the distance of 183 light-years per second.
Dark Matter was a Canadian sci-fi show that lasted three seasons from 2015 to 2017. The plot was pretty simple: six people awake from stasis pods aboard The Raza with no memory of who they are or how they got there. They merely assume the identities One through Six and attempt to piece together the mystery of their situation.
As the show progresses, each person discovers they have knowledge of different parts of the ship, including piloting, electrical systems, and the weapons cache. Eventually, they learn (or remember?) about the ship’s “blink drive”, a highly technical feature that allows The Raza to travel to any point in the galaxy in an instant. However, the blink drive is unstable and dangerous, which leads to many misadventures.
We’re going a bit off the board with this spacecraft, but the SDF-1 Macross from the Japanese anime series The Super Dimension Fortress Macross definitely deserves a spot on our list.
The SDF-1 isn’t just a spacecraft, it can transform into multiple forms. Originally an alien war vessel that crashed into Earth, the SDF-1 contains enough weaponry to destroy a small planet and technology that allows it to fold space. Being able to fold space allows it to travel faster than light.
Like some other ships on this list, we don’t know an exact speed number. But being able to bend time and space for a short flight across the universe definitely qualifies the SDF-1 for this list.
The Borg Cube
The Borg Cube may not look like the fastest spacecraft. It lacks sleek, aerodynamic lines or any sign of rocket thrusters. These ships mostly float around at a slow and steady pace, which that isn’t a surprise considering a single edge of a Borg Cube can be over two miles long.
Like most ships in the Star Trek universe, the Borg Cube has a warp drive. However, the Cube packs an extra punch, though.
Outfitted with a transwarp drive, the Borgs can move their Cubes at incredible speeds. Some estimates put the speed of a transwarping ship at 50 times that of a standard 9.9 warp speed. The Cube also includes an additional shielding system to protect it during transwarp. Otherwise, the entire thing might simply disintegrate under the intense pressure.
Trimaxion Drone Ship
Flight of the Navigator is a decades-old Disney movie about a 12-year-old boy who is abducted by a Trimaxion Drone Ship, a.k.a. Max. The ship itself has a personality, can speak over 1,000 different languages, can travel underwater, and certainly knows how to make long trips feel short.
In the movie, it’s confirmed that Max travels 560 light-years in just 4.4 hours. This means the ship travels faster than light. That already makes it one of the fastest fictional ships ever conceived. Max has another trick though. It can actually travel backward and forward through time to compensate for time dilation.
The majority of spaceships on this list come from the world of film or television, but that doesn’t mean we can’t expand our territory a little bit. We’re sure there are many blazing-fast ships from the gaming world, but we’ve chosen to focus on the Tomb Ships from Warhammer 40K. These are the primary ships of the Necrons in the popular board and video game franchise.
The Tomb Ships are heavily weaponized and armored, making for an excellent battleship. They also possess an unknown form of hyperspeed drive that allows them to engage in interstellar speeds without entering the Warp, an alternate dimension of magic and chaos. This Necron technology allows the Tomb Ships to travel at extreme speeds while maintaining handling. As such these ships don’t have to sacrifice precision or agility in exchange for hyperspeed.
Blake’s 7 may not be that well known in North America. However, the British sci-fi TV series produced 52 episodes over four seasons for the BBC between 1978 and 1981. Taking place over 700 years in the future, it tells the story of a small group of rebels fighting against the totalitarian Terran Federation. As the series starts, the rebels are led by Roj Blake, commander of the Liberator.
The ship itself was actually built by The System, a computer network that’s in charge of a highly advanced alien race. It has self-regenerating energy systems and an advanced weapons/defensive protocol. But since this article is all about speed, let’s focus on that.
The Liberator comes with a photonic stardrive. This drive allows it to travel at speeds of “Standard by Twelve.” The exact nature of the drive is never revealed, but there are suggestions it utilizes “negative hyperspace” or some sort of “antimatter interface” to achieve its incredible speeds.
Based on a 1965 novel of the same name, Dune was a stunning sci-fi adventure released in 1984. Written and directed by David Lynch, Dune told the story of rival noble families fighting over a barren desert planet called Arrakis because it is the only known source of a vital drug called the Spice.
The extraction of the Spice is mostly controlled by the Spacing Guild, an organization with a monopoly on interstellar travel and banking. They use the Spice’s mysterious properties to “fold space” with their fleet of Heighliner spaceships. These massive ships are capable of holding thousands of people. While the Heighliner may not move that fast during regular flight, its ability to harness the power of the Spice and fold space allows it to instantly travel to any spot in space. Even if it’s millions of light-years away.
Serenity is the Series 3 Firefly-class transport ship captained by Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly. While all Fireflys feature a large rear engine module and wing-mounted engines capable of vertical takeoff and landing, the Series 3 uses a Trace Compression Block engine. This engine allows Serenity to accelerate at 4.2 times that of the acceleration of Earth’s gravity.
Spike Spiegel’s timeworn Swordfish II from Cowboy Bebop was originally designed for high-speed racing. It was later converted into a space-ready fighter well-suited for chasing down wanted criminals and elusive con artists. The extensive modifications combined with a Rolls-Royce AF-15C axial fusion aero-spike turbine engine help this lightweight ship outrace most aircraft and spaceships.
The Ark is the spacecraft that originally carried the Autobots to Earth in the Transformers universe. This massive ship is a Vanguard-class deep space interceptor with five decks that can house a crew of 300 Transformers in a fully automated and self-sufficient environment.
Although not a lot of reference is given to the actual speed of travel in Transformers, we know the Autobots have gone on interstellar voyages with non-cryosleeping humans on board. Therefore, the four hyperfuel intake accelerators that functions as the Ark’s main propulsion systems are believed to be capable of reaching speeds of roughly 115 times the speed of light.
In Aliens, the USS Sulaco is a Conestoga-class assault starship carrying military troops on a mission to investigate why communications were lost with a colony on LV-426. The power plant of the ship is a Westingland A-59 Fusion Reactor fueled by Lithium-Hydride. The main sublight engine is attached directly to the reactor and consists of four Gates-Heidmann Rocket engines. These rockets function by taking hot plasma from the fusion reactor and bringing it into contact with the reaction mass. The resultant gas then gets expelled as it would in any normal rocket engine.
For faster-than-light travel, the Sulaco has a Romberg-Rockwell Cygnus 5 Hyperdrive Tachyon Shunt capable of shifting the entire ship into a mirror state in which it’s composed entirely of tachyons. In this state, the ship is capable of reaching speeds of approximately 270 times the speed of light.
8. USS Prometheus
A prototype designed specifically for deep space tactical missions, the USS Prometheus is the fastest ship ever operated by Starfleet. Like other Federation starships, the Prometheus obtains faster-than-light speeds by using a warp drive.
In Star Trek, warp drive velocity is expressed using “warp factor” units which correspond to the magnitude of the warp field generated. Although a warp factor of one is equivalent to the speed of light, the velocities that correspond to higher warp factors are determined using an ambiguous formula and are much greater than double or triple the speed of light. According to the formula, warp velocities approach warp 10 asymptotically, which means there might never be a warp drive quite capable of reaching that speed.
The Prometheus, however, comes very close to it. In fact, it’s capable of reaching warp 9.9 — well over 2,000 times the speed of light.
Forget these other “realistic” spaceships with their technical mumbo jumbo. The Spaceball I from the classic parody film Spaceballs can fly faster than them all. How do we know? Simple: it has Ludicrous Speed!
For anyone who needs a refresher, that’s one gear higher than Ridiculous Speed. Of course, it’s not quite as fast as Plaid Speed.
In the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, the propulsion systems are powered by fuel refined from tylium ore. The Galactica is equipped with both sublight engines and an FTL drive. The sublight engines allow the ship to traverse the distance between neighboring planets in relatively short timeframes. On the other hand, the FTL drive folds space and allows the ship to travel interstellar distances almost instantaneously.
Although the precise range that Galactica can jump has never been specified on-screen, a deleted line from the miniseries may hold the key to calculating. The line mentions that the jump from Ragnar to the Prolmar Sector is said to be 30 light-years. Converting that estimate to light-speed terms would give Galactica a velocity somewhere in the range of 1,680,000 times the speed of light.
Perhaps even more so than its unique shape and rough exterior, the Millennium Falcon is probably best known for its speed. The hyperdrive system onboard the ship is nearly twice the size of one typically found on a YT-1300 freighter. This puts it in the 0.5 hyperdrive class and makes it twice as fast as most imperial starships. The Falcon’s speed is further increased by its navicomputer, which can locate the quickest and safest route between point A and point B. Plus, special streamlining modifications help control the warp of the spacetime around the ship in hyperspace.
Despite all this technology, all the evidence Star Wars lore gives of the Falcon’s speed is the claim that it completed the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. What that means is anybody’s guess. However, the folks at Looper estimate that it means the Falcon can travel 2,714 light-years per hour.
The Heart of Gold
The Heart of Gold spacecraft from the classic Douglas Adams novel A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is certainly one a kind. According to the fictional history, it was built in secret with the help of an engineer who was “a superintelligent shade of the colour blue.” It was originally stolen at its own official launch and comes with Marvin the android, a depressed and paranoid robot servant.
The highlight of the ship’s incredible speed is the Infinite Improbability Drive, a small golden box at the heart of the ship. When engaged, the ship actually passes through every point in the known universe, allowing the pilot to simply stop wherever they want. It’s a great way to get around the universe without resorting to warp drives or hyperspeed.
The Heart of Gold is definitely one of the fasted fictional ships ever thanks to its unique technology.
Also known as a Deep Space Carrier or 304, the Daedalus-class battlecruiser from Stargate SG-1 was constructed with fully-integrated alien technology. Two of these systems include the ship’s reactor and hyperdrive, both of which were designed by the Asgard race. This advanced technology enables the Daedalus to journey between galaxies in mere weeks.
Determining just how fast the TARDIS travels is a bit of a conundrum considering it moves through both space and time at extremely variable rates. As such, the distance occupants travel in time doesn’t always seem to relate to the amount of time they spend in the TARDIS.
In the episode “Utopia”, for example, they take the TARDIS all the way to the end of time and the journey only seems to take a few minutes. However, in other episodes, journeys apparently take at least several hours as evidenced by some companions stating they were able to get a full night’s rest before arriving at the destination.
Nevertheless, The Doctor is able to control the speed of the — at least to some degree. Therefore, its top speed is estimated to be somewhere around 10,000,000,000,000,000 times the speed of light.