International Space Station to Earth is quicker than a Dubai - London flight
Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut recently concluded his eight-day stay on the International Space Station (ISS) and is back home. The journey from the endlessness of space to solid ground however may be faster than you assumed.
Humans can't fly, that's common knowledge, we can however jump in things that allow us to do so. It's by no means easy, in fact humanity didn't figure out how to fly in planes till 1903 courtesy of the Wright Brothers. It then took over half a century to figure out space travel as cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first man in space in 1961.
Over the years, both space travel and aviation seriously improved, to the point where it takes a fraction of the time it once did to travel vast distances. In fact, it only takes around seven hours and 40 minutes to get from Dubai International Airport to London Heathrow, the most popular destination from Dubai. In that time, you hardly even notice you're covering more than 5,748 kilometres (km), equal exactly to the distance covered if you stacked 6,600 Burj Khalifas on top of one another.
Space travel too is impressively speedy these days, what was one an impossible dream, reaching the stars and back, can now be achieved in a few hours. Looking at Al Mansouri's schedule for today's return, he, along with two crewmates will begin their journey back home on the Soyuz MS-12 at 11:36am, touching down on Earth at 3:00pm. That's just under three and a half hours, well over half the time it takes to get from Dubai to London.
The distance between the ISS and the surface of the Earth is only around 408 km or 483 stacked Burj Khalifas. The Soyuz is pushed away from the station with a few springs, the craft then breaks into three parts, with the descent module being the one housing the ISS crew hurtling towards home. The capsule is then continuously slowed down by engines, parachutes and the Earth's own atmosphere to touch down at Earth at a speed as low as 5 km/h.
Watch European Space Agency's video below on how returning home works
Comparing that 408 km figure to aviation, space travel does seem a bit slow. Dubai to Oman is around 489 km or 589 Burj Khalifas, and it only takes around an hour to fly there. Remember though, space travel back to Earth could go a lot faster, in fact the entire job of the crew heading back home is to make sure they don't go too fast and explode on landing.
Still, if you've ever dozed off on your flight from Dubai to London and rejoiced at how quick it felt, remind yourself you could've got from the ISS to Earth in half that time.