Last Reviewed and Updated on June 26, 2022
Space is pretty big, and it can be hard to wrap your head around just how big. How long would it take to get to Saturn with a spacecraft? Or with an imaginary space-traveling car? How about a stroll on foot, how long would that take? Or a craft capable of traveling at the speed of light. Entertain your mind with our answers to these most interesting questions.
It takes spacecraft about 2 to 6 years to fly by Saturn
Pioneer 11 was the first spacecraft to ever fly by Saturn and it took it six and a half years to arrive. It was launched on April 6th, 1973, and made a Saturn flyby on September 1st, 1979.
Voyager 1 and 2 cut the travel time to almost a half, with Voyager 1 reaching Saturn in three years and two months and Voyager 2 four years.
New Horizon was launched in 2006 and it flew by Saturn in two years and four months.
As you can see as the technology improves and better propulsions are available the time it takes to reach Saturn has decreased significantly and we’ll see this time decrease even more in the future.
Missions that make flyby’s of planets took a more direct route to reach the planets.
Want to stay in orbit? It will take longer
There is currently one spacecraft that was in orbit of Saturn (and one is planned to launch in 2027).
The Cassini-Huygens probe launched on October 17th, 1997 and it reached Saturn in 2004. It took the probe 7 years to reach orbit, which is more than all other spacecraft, even older ones. Fun fact, the probe was named after two scientists that had a lot to do with understanding and the discovery of the rings of Saturn and Saturn’s moon Titan.
You might ask why? They did initially plan a direct route but that would require stronger rockets. As there was a tragic accident in 1986, where the shuttle Challenger broke apart soon after launch, resulting in 7 dead astronauts, this changed the plans for Cassini. The probe would have a smaller rocket and would take advantage of gravity assist (slingshot maneuver) from other planets to reach its destination. It circled around the Sun twice, before shooting to Saturn.
How long would it take to get to Saturn by car?
Now with the more realistic scenarios out of the way let’s take a ride with a car. Let’s imagine there is a highway from Earth all the way to Saturn, a straight line, with no obstacles. And you don’t need sleep, food, or bathroom breaks on your journey.
To make things easier, let’s take the distance when Saturn and Earth are closest together, as it would make sense you would want to make your journey as short as possible. So it’s 746 million miles / 1.2 billion kilometers. And you’ll be driving at the average highway speed limit of about 80 mph / 130 km/h.
How long the journey would take? The drive would take over 1060 years.
How about walking?
An average walk to Saturn would take over 24.300 years.
If you are the jogging type you can knock down quite a few years – it would take you just over 17.000 years.
Average runners will reach their goal in about 11.300 years.
How long would it take to get to Saturn at the speed of light?
It takes light about 80 minutes to get from Saturn to Earth (and the other way around), so if we would have a spacecraft capable of traveling at the speed of light, this is the time it would take it to reach its destination.
Want to take another journey? Take a look at how long it would take to get to Jupiter.