To say that rockets are loud is an understatement. Few of them are as loud as were NASA’s 1970s-era Saturn V rockets. Its engines generated 45 GW of mechanical power while burning a combined 12 700 liters of kerosene and liquid oxygen every second. The stakes were high. Saturn V rockets carried Apollo astronauts to the Moon and the Skylab space station into orbit.

Thankfully, less than 1% of a rocket’s mechanical power is converted into sound. Even so, the Saturn V radiated nearly 250 MW of sound power. By comparison, a typical gas-powered lawnmower radiates a few tens of milliwatts. It would take around 10 billion lawnmowers to equal the acoustic power of the Saturn V.

Although the number of rocket launches is rapidly increasing each year, only about 220 of them took place in 2023. Compare that number with commercial aviation, which sees 25 000 flights per day...

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