Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound (Mach 1), approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph, 667 knots, or 1,235 km/h. Most modern fighter aircraft are supersonic, but there have been supersonic passenger aircraft, namely Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144. Both these passenger aircraft and some modern fighters are also capable of supercruise, a condition of sustained supersonic flight without the use of an afterburner. Continue reading for more.

Most spacecraft, most notably the Space Shuttle are supersonic at least during portions of their reentry, though the effects on the spacecraft are reduced by low air densities. During ascent, launch vehicles generally avoid going supersonic below 30 km (~98,400 feet) to reduce air drag.

Note that the speed of sound decreases somewhat with altitude, due to lower temperatures found there (typically up to 25 km). At even higher altitudes the temperature starts increasing, with the corresponding increase in the speed of sound.

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