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Given that the ramjet and scram jet engines could achieve hypersonic flight, is sonic boom the major impediment to passenger hypersonic flight today? If so, why is it that space shuttles could travel at speeds in the regions of Mach 25. How did they deal with sonic boom in relation to noise pollution on the ground what was so unique about their design given that there were many space shuttle fights.

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  • $\begingroup$ also, note that Mach, through the speed of sound, is a function of temperature: the Shuttle was travelling at M25 where the temperature (and thus the speed of sound) was lower, giving a higher Mach number for the same airspeed. $\endgroup$ – Federico Aug 10 '17 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ The space shuttles kept most of their sonic booms over the oceans - fewer complaints that way. $\endgroup$ – Dan Pichelman Aug 10 '17 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ @mins - I'd forgotten about people hearing the "double boom" when a shuttle landed. $\endgroup$ – Dan Pichelman Aug 10 '17 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ Note that the Space Shuttle didn't accelerate to orbital speed until it was out of most of the atmosphere. On reentry, it was not travelling at Mach 25, it was decelerating from that speed to the ~225 mph at which it touched down. Then consider the size of the fuel tank required to boost it to orbit, and the thermal protection required for reentry - and what happens when that protection fails. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 2 '17 at 6:17