Are Rockets Fast or Slow?

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Are Rockets Fast or Slow?

October 17, 2017

Of course rockets are fast, right? The speediest one carrying a person zoomed at over 4,000 miles an hour, and the unmanned HTV-2 rocket glider flew at more than 13,000 mph! But rockets ride very slowly when down on the ground. Since they have to fly millions of miles without making a mistake, they have to be handled very gently so every part stays in place. Spacecraft are rolled from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building to the launchpad at just 2-3 miles an hour — slower than we can walk! Even when we stopped using the space shuttle Endeavour, and rolled it 12 miles from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Space Center, it crawled through the city at just 2 miles an hour. And because it was 78 feet wide, the city had to cut down trees and telephone poles to make room for it. We’re guessing rockets have more fun flying in the sky.

Wee ones: If a rocket rolls 2 miles an hour and you walk 1 mile an hour faster, how fast are you?

Little kids: If you flew at 4,000 miles per hour for a 2-hour playdate, how far would you fly?  Bonus: The Endeavour stopped flying in 2012. How old were you then? (We’re in 2017 right now.)

Big kids: If the 78-foot-wide Endeavour rolled down a street 50 feet wide, by how many feet did the space shuttle stick out on each side (assuming it rolled right down the middle)?  Bonus: If you flew the 25,000 miles around Earth at 4,000 miles per hour starting at 7:00 pm, would you land back home the same day you started?




Wee ones: 3 miles an hour.

Little kids: 8,000 miles.  Bonus: Different for everyone…that was 5 years ago, so subtract 5 from your age. If you’re younger than 5, you weren’t born yet!

Big kids: 14 feet on each side, since it’s 28 feet too wide and the two sides split that.  Bonus: No, because In 6 hours you’ll travel 24,000 miles, which already takes you to 1:00 in the morning the next day. The last 1,000 miles take you just another 15 minutes (1/4 of an hour at 4,000 miles per hour).

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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