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Eric Mack, reporting for CNET: NASA has been deliberately creating sonic booms off the coast of Galveston, Texas, since Monday in the hope that residents on the barrier island community won’t be too bothered by the sound of an F/A-18 aircraft briefly going supersonic. That’s because the research jet is performing a dive maneuver designed to reduce the normally thunderous sonic boom to what NASA calls a “quiet thump,” more like the sound of a car door slamming. The test flights are aimed at measuring the community response to the new, quieter booms and are part of NASA’s larger effort to develop a new, more muted supersonic plane that might be able to fly over land. Current regulations prohibit flights
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