Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 2073 xkcd comics,
and only 36
(2%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!
Go to this comic explanation
|Airplanes and Spaceships|
Title text: Despite having now taken three months longer than the airplane people, we're making disappointingly little progress toward the obvious next stage of vehicle: The Unobtanium-hulled tunneling ship from the 2003 film 'The Core.'
|| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a TUNNELING AIRPLANE-SPACESHIP. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.|
This comic is pointing out that more time has elapsed since the first spaceship flight, than previously elapsed between the first airplane flight and the first spaceship flight.
Airplanes and spaceships are often considered to be related vehicles, under the term aerospace, with degrees in aerospace fields often having aeronautics (airplanes) or astronautics (spaceships) tracks. The jump in technology and performance between the first airplane and the first spaceship was enormous: the Wright Flyer had a max speed of 30 mph, and the first flights reached only about 30 feet above ground, with distances of only 120 to 850 feet. In comparison the Vostok 1 mission of Yuri Gagarin reached orbital velocity of 17,500 mph, a minimum altitude of 91 miles (480,480 feet), and traveled once around the earth (about 25,000 miles). This represents an increase in performance of between about 600 and 150,000 times.
In contrast, although the time since the first spaceflight equals about the same amount of time, performance has not increased much at all. Speeds and altitudes during the Apollo mission were both faster and higher, and distance traveled has increased via space missions that remain in orbit longer, but the overall technology and performance is not much different that that used during the first space mission.
The title text refers to the 2003 film The Core. In this film, there is a instability in the Earth's magnetic field, so a team of scientists attempt to drill to the center of the Earth and set off nuclear explosions to restart the rotation of the Earth's core. To do this, they travel in a vehicle made of "Unobtainium" that can withstand the heat and pressure within the Earth's crust. Randall is sad to report that there is little progress being made on creating this vehicle.
- [A timeline is shown with three dots on it. Each dot has a label beneath the dot, and the two intervals between the dots are also labeled, with lines indicating which dots are belonging to that label.]
- Dot 1:
- December 17, 1903
- First human airplane flight
- Dot 2:
- April 12, 1961
- First human spaceflight
- Dot 3:
- Interval 1-2: 57 years 4 months
- Interval 2-3: 57 years 7 months
- [Caption beneath the frame:]
- Spaceships are now older than airplanes were when we flew our first spaceships.
Is this out of date? .
Lots of people
contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined
. You can do it too! Create your account here
You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.
- There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
- We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.
Don't be a jerk.
There are a lot of comics that don't have set-in-stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.
If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.
Please only submit material directly related to (and helping everyone better understand) xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.
If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.