You would have often heard lovers talking about how they could get the Moon for their better half. Have you ever looked up at the sky on a full moon night and fantasized about the same? Have you ever given thought to how far the Moon is from where you are and how long does it take to go to the moon? Have you wondered how long it took for Neil Armstrong to finally set foot on the Moon after years and years of planning, hard work, and research? Is there a perfect moment when you could shorten your journey to the Moon? Will traveling to the Moon be possible for the common folk like you and me in our lifetime? All your ponderings will be answered in the article that follows. So, tighten your seatbelts for you are about to be on a journey to the Moon, maybe sooner than you think it possible.
How Far Is the Moon From The Earth?
The brightest object in the night sky, the Moon has been the fancy of many writers and poets. Even the common man often looks at it and feels a sense of calm and often fantasizes about catching hold of it somehow. After the Sun, Moon is the biggest object we can see when we look up at the sky. So, it must be close right? It must be well within grasp. On the contrary, it is as far from the Earth as nearly 30 Earth combined and lined up one after the other between the Earth and the lunar surface. On some occasions the Moon is closer and on others farther to the Earth by a fraction but, the distance is still quite vast.
The Universe is full of parallels and symmetry in all its objects. As the Earth revolves around the Sun in an elliptical orbit, similarly the Moon revolves around the Earth in an elliptical orbit. As the Earth has equinox and solstice, the lunar orbit has Apogee and Perigee. An Apogee is basically the time when Moon is farthest to the Earth in its orbit at a distance of about 405,696 km and is also often referred to as the Micromoon due to its smaller appearance when it occurs simultaneously with a full moon. On the other hand, Perigee is when the Moon is closest to the Earth in the lunar orbit at a distance of about 363,104 km and is also known as the Supermoon when falling along with a full moon. Based on this change in distance, the Moon has varied brightness and size throughout its lunar cycle. Hence, the average distance between the Moon and Earth can be considered as 384,400 km.
Fun fact: The Supermoon is 30% brighter than the Micromoon and may be up to 14% larger in size.
How Long Does It Take To Get To The Moon?
Now that we know how far the Moon is from the Earth, calculating the time to get there must be cakewalk right? On the contrary, it is based on many factors that are constantly in flux, the biggest being the presence of a human. It certainly takes longer for human missions to the Moon, than the regular unmanned probes sent out into the space. The shortest time taken till date is by the New Horizons probe, at around 8.5 hours on its way to Pluto, when it made its way past the Lunar orbit without entering into it whereas the longest time so far has been taken by the lunar probe ESMART-I approximating to 1 year 1 month and 2 weeks.
The first ever successful human mission to the Moon in Apollo 11 took around 75 hours to enter the Moon’s orbit while at around the 100-hour mark, it finally docked on the surface of the Moon. The first man set foot on the lunar surface about 109 hours after leaving the Earth’s surface. So, you now have a timeline to look forward to for your future travel and make plans accordingly.
It can be seen that the time taken to get to the Moon varies a lot, depending on whether the mission is manned or unmanned, whether the final destination is the Moon or someplace else in the Universe, whether the journey is fuel efficient or not. The New Horizon probe, though the fastest, was meant to reach Pluto, and thus was not slowing down to land at the Moon. The ESMART-I, though the slowest, made the most fuel-efficient journey to the Moon to date.
Would You Like to Go To The Moon?
With private companies coming up in the space business and with the now not-so-outlandish ideas of commercial tourism to the Moon, it might be entirely possible for the common man to visit the Moon and just get that piece of Moon that we keep promising our loved ones. You might just be able to fulfill the yearning of being to the Moon without having to go through the rigorous training that an astronaut undergoes. SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have been paving the way for space and Moon tourism.
The variables are still being pondered upon by scientists and definitive travel time is hard to discern for now. Although, current estimations based on the Orion Mission peg it at around 12 hours to the Moon. Of course, weight, acceleration and the presence of people on board will have to be taken into consideration for more final calculations. But, rest assured, your dream of traveling to the Moon and back does not seem too far off in the future, and that too in a fraction of the time it took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to do so.
We hope you enjoyed reading about how long does it take to get to the Moon. Stay tuned for more such interesting articles.
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