Is the Falcon Heavy Rocket as loud as the older Saturn V and Space Shuttles?

I have read that Saturn V and the Space Shuttle were within a few decibels of each other. The newer Shuttle was slightly quieter than the older Saturn V. How does Falcon Heavy compare?

  • $\begingroup$ The sound of the Space Shuttle was different to Saturn V due to the non constant combustion within the boosters. There was a lot of vibration and shaking caused by the boosters. After separation the flight was very smooth. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Feb 2, 2018 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ We should have a better idea on Feb 6, 2018! Assuming they launch on time. Also we should get 4 sonic booms from the landings. ( 2 per stage ). $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Feb 2, 2018 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ I wondered if I was asking too soon. We watched the Falcon Heavy engine test video stream and wondered if sound levels was one of the factors they measure. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2018 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ Can't we assume that a FH is just three times F9 and hence 4.8 dB louder? This is assuming there are no coherence effects, no resonances and sound suppression works equally well. I don't have number for the F9 though. $\endgroup$
    – asdfex
    Feb 3, 2018 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ "within a few decibels" can still mean a big difference in sound as they're measured on a logarithmic scale. A 3dB change means a doubling in sound intensity. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Feb 3, 2018 at 11:40

2 Answers 2


Expected noise levels can be found in the environmental assessment.

For Falcon 9: 156.1 ± 4.9 dB (unweighted) at 125 ft.
For Falcon Heavy: 160.9 ± 4.9 dB (unweighted) at 125 ft.

So asdfex's comment is in line with what SpaceX expects/has calculated. Now this is a 2011 study, after the first v1.0 launch but predating the various upgrades to the F9. I haven't found a more recent environmental assessment.

The Falcon 9 user manual lists noise levels inside the payload fairing of up to 131.4 dB.


Real data will not be available for Falcon Heavy until the first launch, scheduled for February 2018. Noise levels for Falcon Heavy are estimated to be below the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) which produces more thrust. The SLS is expected to be 130 decibels at the launch site.

The Space Shuttle was louder at 180 dB at launch, even with the aid of a Sound Suppression System installed on Pad 39-A during the 1980s.

The Saturn V predated this suppression system. Early engine tests reached as high as 211 decibels.

  • $\begingroup$ It is surprisingly difficult to find accurate data on Space Shuttle and Saturn V decibel levels... $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2018 at 7:26
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    $\begingroup$ That's 180 dB "in the payload bay", not outside. $\endgroup$
    – asdfex
    Feb 3, 2018 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the clarification. That seems like an incredible force on the payload. I would love a more accurate reference if I can find one. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2018 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have the reputation to leave a comment, but in response to Dan, I used a decibel meter at several different locations during shuttle launches. Press Site, Banana Creek Site, VAB roof, and never saw more than 122 dB. I don't have any data on Falcon but I would expect it to be not quite as loud as shuttle was. $\endgroup$ May 15, 2019 at 1:27

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