I'm looking for the record shortest and longest times a real rocket took to get its payload into LEO, such that it didn't need any additional delta-v to stay in orbit, starting from launch at the Earth's surface.

I know that shorter times mean less gravity drag, but heavier engines. I want to compare the launch mass and payload mass for the rockets with the shortest and longest times to LEO to see which method has the lowest launch mass to payload mass ratio.

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    $\begingroup$ I think the fastest manned ones I know of are the Mercury flights - eg 5 min 20 sec see here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury-Atlas_6 but any number of unmanned ones may be faster? $\endgroup$ – Andy Feb 12 '16 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ I can't find much information on time-to-orbit for unmanned launches, so can't give a definitive answer. All other things being equal, multi-stage launchers will tend to have lower average acceleration and thus longer times to orbit, so looking into 3- and 4-stage to orbit launchers might get you the longer-time answers. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Feb 13 '16 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ Whoa, Ariane 5G uses a very low thrust second stage, winding up with a ~25 minute launch to LEO. spacelaunchreport.com/ariane5.html $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Feb 16 '16 at 4:08

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