ANSWER from Bruce Thompson on March 18, 2004:
I suppose we are talking about manned launches? The time it takes to reach orbit - travel to space - depends on the type of launch vehicle. The Space Shuttle takes about 8.5 minutes, while the Saturn 5 that launched the Apollo Moon mission took twelve minutes. The Titan 2 rocket, that launched the Gemini space ships, took 6.5 minutes. That's fast!
The record for the fastest speed by an unmanned space craft was set by the NASA-German Helios 1 and 2 space probes, which reached 252,800 kph during their orbits of the Sun. They were launched by Titan 3E rockets from Cape Canaveral on December 10, 1974 and January 15, 1976.
The fastest manned space ship was Apollo 10 (Thomas Stafford, Eugene Cernan and John Young), which reached 39,665 kph as it returned to Earth from the Moon in May, 1969.