FTL in the Alien Universe

In a conversation with Dr Brad Tucker, consultant Astrophysicist and Cosmologist for Alien: Covenant; we discussed how we’d measure FTL travel.

In Aliens(1986) LV426 is 39 lightyears from Earth, making it 11.9575 parsecs or 229266389554160.7mi (1203414349800000km).

For the sake of measurement in the Alien Universe using imperial I will continue in miles.

It takes the USCSS Sulaco 3 weeks to arrive at their destination, making it 21 days or 504 Earth hours total travel time.

So FTL travels at speeds equal to 229266389554160.7mi / 504 hours = 0.02372510785385933 Parsecs per Earth Hour or 368968488430651.2km / 504 hours = 0.02372510785385429 Parsecs per Earth Hour or 0.02 AU (Astronomical Unit)

So it is distance travelled at the speed of light divided by the time travelled to destination which equals the FTL speed.

For example the USCSS Nostromo is 10 months to Earth at a distance of 39.17 Light years.

That’s 39.17 Light Years x 12 Months in a year = 470.04 Light Months

470.04 Light Months divided by 10 Earth Months = 47.004 times the speed of light.

Nostomo = x47 FTL

For example the USCSS Sulaco is 21 days to Zeta II Reticuli at a distance of 39.17 Light years.

That’s 39.17 Light Years x 365.25 Days in a year = 14,306.8425 Light Days

14,306.8425 Light Days divided by 21 Earth Days = 681.28 times the speed of light.

Sulaco = x681 FTL


  • 1 Parsec = 19173513058736.98mi (According to Kyle’s Converter) or 30856778200000km
  • Aliens (1986)
  • 28 May 2019 Dr Brad Tucker, Cosmologist and Astrophysicist at ANU advised “Speed X Parsecs Per Earth Hour”
    • “I think I’d do it like a speed X parsecs per earth hour or something like that.  Given we use km/hr, I’d think we’d find a way of extending that but in terms of AU or parsec.”
  • gif of USCSS Covenant heading to Origae-6(presumably)

One thought on “FTL in the Alien Universe

  1. I absolutely LOVE that you did this! For those of us who’ve had to already had the joy (said with snarky sarcasm except for the astronomy course lolol) of actually making it through advanced grad school classes in astrophysics, quantum physics, and astronomy this was absolutely brilliant and right on the mark!

    I’ve always hoped someone would explain the details of the exactly how fast one needs to be able to travel in order for us to actually achieve interstellar travel – something we’re a long way off from at the moment but we WILL get there eventually once the planet realizes that we need to put aside our differences, make nice, share our toys, and make it happen! Something that will be achieved but long after I’ve left for my next great adventure (I promise to send letters), yet something we WILL achieve! At least I really, really, really, really, really, really (add a gazillion more reallys to) hope we do as travel through our vast universe is one of my biggest dreams for us to achieve together for all humankind!

    Just umm please hire competent scientists to explore distant planets with you know protective gear and who won’t go all pokey, pokey to everything they see! Lolol

    Thank you so very much for this awesome post MU/TH/UR!
    Lady Anne ^^ö^^ (Jessica M. Kandal, PhD)

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