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I've heard that one of the reasons that we don't have commercial supersonic flight is because of the sonic boom produced. Is this really a deal-breaker and if not, how do you get around/minimize the nuisance?

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Take a look at SAI Quiet Supersonic Transport (QSST), which was an attempt to solve the problem by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. They basically design the shape of the aircraft, so that pressure waves going towards the ground are as weak as possible. The project was cancelled due to lack of potential customers some time ago, but apparently it has been recently resurrected.

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