Having never been to a rocket launch, can you tell me how far the sound carries?

I can hear the rumble of F-15 Eagles take off from inside my office building five miles from the airport. An F-15C is about 149 dB with afterburners.

The space shuttle and Saturn V rockets were much louder. A test of the Saturn V Rocket reached 204 decibels.

Is there a standard distance from Cape Canaveral that launches can be heard?

  • $\begingroup$ If there's a cloud deck, a reasonable sized launch from Cape Canaveral will travel approximately 50 miles along the coast line. The shuttle launches had enough force to rattle my garage door. $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Feb 2, 2018 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I would imagine those rules would require that launches over a certain noise level are only allowed during certain daylight hours. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2018 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @DanSorensen I believe the rules called for scrubbing if the predicted noise/sound power levels were too high in the surrounding communities (based on weather conditions at the predicted time of launch). I don't think this ever happened though so the margins were presumably generous. I was hoping to find a copy of those rules somewhere on the internet to set an upper bound for the sound levels in your question, but so far I have not been able to. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2018 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ The answer is probably in nasa.gov/pdf/207914main_Cx_PEIS_final_Chapter_4.pdf somewhere. My favorite part is on page 4-14: 80 dBA is "Moderate hearing damage", 85 is "Very annoying", and 90 is "Affect mental and motor behavior". $\endgroup$
    – Phil Frost
    Feb 3, 2018 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ Also keep in mind when you read "F-15C is about 149 dB with afterburners", that's 149 dB at some distance. If the distance isn't specified it doesn't really mean much. My cat can purr at 65 dBA (at least) if I put her throat right on my ear. $\endgroup$
    – Phil Frost
    Feb 3, 2018 at 21:09


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