NASA tests to produce sonic booms on Florida coast in August

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Scientific research at Kennedy Space Center could mean some loud booms along Canaveral National Seashore on Space Coast between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville next month, NASA officials said.

Research teams from Armstrong Flight Research Center at California's Edward Air Force Base and Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., will visit Kennedy for nearly two weeks of tests.

The Sonic Booms in Atmospheric Turbulence flights, or SonicBAT, study low-altitude and their effects on , which happen when an aircraft flies faster than the speed of sound.

"In SonicBAT, we're trying to figure out how much changes sonic booms," said Ed Haering, SonicBAT's principal investigator at Armstrong, in a blog post at NASA's website.

While a previous test in California studied sonic boom behavior in dry climates, the Florida test will do so in a humid climate.

An F-18 will take off from a runway at Kennedy and rise to an altitude of 32,000 feet, speeding up to exceed the speed of sound, which is Mach 1.

The aircraft will fly two or three times a day starting Aug. 21 and ending sometime before the end of August or early September.

"Turbulence can make sonic booms quieter, or it can make them louder," Haering said. "Last summer we tested in the hot, dry climate of Edwards Air Force Base. We know that humidity can make sonic booms louder, so we need to someplace wetter, and Kennedy fits that bill."

Haering said residents near the area around Kennedy and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station should not be worried when they hear the blasts.

"At the altitudes we are flying, sonic booms from aircraft have never been dangerous to people, animals or buildings, but they can be startling," he said.


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