Florida braces for crowds for launch of NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission

They arrive.

Florida’s Space Coast tourism officials are expecting a massive influx of tourists for the upcoming Artemis 1 lunar mission, NASA’s first launch. Space Launch System rocket. The “Space Coast” is a term given to the area of ​​Florida where the two Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station are situated.

“First-time launch viewers should start planning their Space Coast getaway now to prepare. Many beachfront hotels are already fully booked for Artemis launch attempts, but there are still rooms available. available on the continent,” said Peter Cranis, executive director of Florida’s Space. Coast Tourism Board, Space.com told Space.com. “There are plenty of viewing locations to choose from, and we recommend getting to your chosen location early to find parking and have backup locations in mind. There will be a considerable amount of pre-launch and post-launch traffic, so visitors should ensure they have taken pre-trip bathroom breaks, filled the car with snacks or means to entertain the children, and exercised patience.”

Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission explained in photos

Cranis added that Artemis 1 launch spectators should “Remember to wear sunscreen, download the SpaceCoastLaunches app (opens in a new tab), and keep an eye on the official NASA and Space Coast Office of Tourism social media feeds for updates. If you post images or videos on social media, please use #SpaceCoast so we can see and possibly share.”

Cranis said that while it’s hard to tell first-time viewers what to expect, the history of space shuttle launches in Cape Town might give us an idea of ​​what launching Artemis 1 will look like. “It’s hard to say exactly what to expect as this is the maiden voyage of the SLS, but we were told it would look and feel like the shuttle launches due to the enormous power,” said he told Space.com. “This will include rumbles and vibrations from quite distant windows. While you may see a rocket launch on video or even from across the state on a clear day, nothing beats hearing and feeling the launch up close. Space Coast is the only beach that doubles as a launch pad, and we’re excited for this next chapter in human spaceflight and space exploration.”

Related: Why are rockets launched from Florida?

A large crowd of people watch from Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral the launch of space shuttle Atlantis, Friday, July 8, 2011.

A large crowd of people watch from Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis, Friday, July 8, 2011 (Image credit: Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Florida Today reports that officials expect more than 100,000 tourists to flock to Florida when the space agency plans to launch the massive 200-foot (61-meter) rocket on August 29 (or space save dates). reserved for September 3 and 5). Artemis 1 will launch from Launch Pad 39B at KSC on an uncrewed test flight that will place the Orion spacecraft in orbit around the moon for six to 19 days before returning to Earth. The mission will serve as a key test for future NASA crewed Artemis missions.

“We’re expecting capacity crowds at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for the upcoming Artemis launch,” said Therrin Protze, visitor complex chief operating officer, according to Florida Today. Protze added that KSC will offer “special Artemis launch viewing packages that will include some of the closest public viewing opportunities with distinctive experiences like live commentary from space experts and access to certain exhibits and attractions”.

Cranis said other missions, such as the recent SpaceX Crew Dragon launches, drew an equally large number of visitors, with crowds reaching 250,000. Fortunately, the surrounding county has more than 10,000 hotel rooms and 4,500 vacation rentals, but many other visitors will also be driving to the launch without having to book accommodations.

A crowd watches as the massive Artemis I rocket is carried atop a mobile launch pad en route to Launch Pad 39B from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 17, 2022.

A crowd watches as the massive Artemis I rocket is carried atop a mobile launch pad en route to Launch Pad 39B from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 17, 2022. (Image credit: Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s not just launch watchers who are excited about the upcoming Artemis 1 mission. Mike Bolger, KSC’s director of ground exploration systems, told Florida Today that even KSC personnel are buzzing with anticipation. for the launch. “The growing sense of energy and excitement that has steadily built around Kennedy and among our staff over the past year is tangible,” Bolger said. “A sense of anticipation grows every day as we get closer to the launch of this incredible rocket and spacecraft.”

KSC director Janet Petro said the whole center is counting down to launch day. “You can see it in people’s faces, you can hear it in their voices, and when we all stand together with our eyes skyward on launch day, I don’t think there will be a feeling like that. in the world. “

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