the soothing sounds of a shuttle rocket test

Top Gear checks out the loudest place on Earth, a NASA complex in the swamps of Mississippi where rocket engines are put through their paces.

Rockets have to be tested every once in a while just to make sure everything works as intended, and when a space agency like NASA needed to test a powerful SRB, like say for an upcoming shuttle mission, it headed down to a patch of land in Mississippi where it could burn a few hundred thousand gallons of fuel in relative peace and quiet. Relative of course because the rockets produce an absolutely deafening noise, a noise not unlike the sustained explosion of a tactical nuke, a noise estimated to register at 170+ dB. For comparison, a jackhammer tearing through concrete comes in at around 130 dB, but the decibel scale is logarithmic, so for every 10 dB increase, the sound can seem twice as loud. But enough math. Here’s Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear to explain how NASA got its testing site and show how loud an SRB in fine working order really is…

I can only imagine how problematic it would be to live next to a rocket testing site. Having a train go by can be annoying enough as it bellows and clanks down the tracks. But the deafening roar of a rocket? Imagine a few friends over when NASA runs a test. They’d prepare to run for the closets and basements, asking if a tornado was about to strike out of the blue, and you’d have to lean back, sigh, and shout back that it’s only one of those stupid rockets the space agency is testing once in a while. No wonder that people accepted NASA’s offers for their properties and moved. Though with the retirement of the shuttle, it’s a question whether this site will still be used since the new generations of rockets are being built by aerospace startups which are testing future spacecraft in the deserts of the Southwest rather than in the swamps of the South.

# space // entertainment / nasa / rockets / space shuttle


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