If you look up at the sky for a long enough period of time or spend a few seconds to Google its location, you could notice the International Space Station (ISS) speeding above your head. You may also notice that it is moving quickly, though you may not realize how quickly.
Though not as fast as deep-space probes or the Parker Solar Probe, which travel at speeds of 532,000 kilometers per hour (330,500 miles per hour) relative to the Sun, the ISS is moving at an amazing 28,000 kilometers per hour (17,500 miles per hour). At this speed, it completes one rotation every 90 minutes, observing 16 sunrises and sunsets per (Earth) day.
But nothing surpasses seeing something hurtle down the ground, as in this video from the YouTube channel Airplane Mode imitating the ISS flying at ground level.
The movie, which was created by speeding up footage created with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, compares the velocity to Mach 1, or the speed of sound. It depicts the International Space Station soaring over forests, mountain ranges, and cities like New York in a matter of seconds.
The ISS will one day, however briefly, approach this altitude. Once its purpose is completed, it will be decommissioned by progressively lowering its orbit until it is dragged down to Earth in 2031 in the South Pacific Ocean Uninhabited Area, also known as Point Nemo, the planet’s most distant location.