Science

Florida prepares to launch NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission

They are coming.

Tourism officials on Florida’s Space Coast are expecting a massive influx of tourists due to the upcoming Artemis 1 lunar mission, the first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. “Space Coast” is the term given to the region of Florida where both the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the Cape Canaveral Space Force station are located.

“Those who are watching the launch for the first time should start planning their Space Coast vacation now to get ready. Many beach hotels have already sold out for attempts to launch Artemis, but there are still rooms available on the mainland,” said Peter Kranis, chief executive of Florida. This was reported to Space.com by the Coastal Tourism Authority. “There are a variety of viewing spots to choose from and we recommend getting to your chosen spot early to find parking and keep reserve spots in mind. There will be a significant amount of traffic before and after the launch, so visitors should make sure they take pre-trip bathroom breaks, load up their car with snacks or ways to keep the kids entertained, and be patient.”

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

Kranis added that Artemis 1 launch viewers should “remember to wear sunscreen, download the SpaceCoastLaunches app.” (will open in a new tab), and stay tuned to NASA and the Space Coast Tourism Authority official social media for updates. If you post any images or videos on social media please use #SpaceCoast so we can see and maybe share.”

Kranis said that while it’s hard to tell those watching the launch for the first time what to expect, the storied history of space shuttle launches at the Cape can give us a hint of what the launch of Artemis 1 will be like. an SLS flight, but we were told it would look and feel like a shuttle launch due to the sheer power,” he told Space.com. “That would involve rattling and vibrating windows at quite a distance. While you can 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. it doubles as a launch pad and we’re excited about this next chapter in manned space flight and space exploration.”

On the subject: Why are rockets launched from Florida?

A large crowd of people watch from Jetty Park at Cape Canaveral as the spacecraft launches.

A large crowd of people watch from Jetty Park at Cape Canaveral as the Space Shuttle Atlantis launches, 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 arrive in Florida when the space agency plans to launch a huge 200-foot (61-meter) rocket in August. 29 (or on the placeholder backup dates September 3 and September 5). Artemis 1 will launch from Launch Pad 39B at KSC on an uncrewed test flight that will see the Orion spacecraft orbit the Moon for six to 19 days before returning to Earth. The mission will serve as a cornerstone for future crewed NASA Artemis missions.

“We are expecting crowds at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for the upcoming launch of Artemis,” Terrin Protze, chief operating officer of the visitor complex, told Florida Today. Proce added that KSC will offer “special Artemis launch viewing packages that will include some of the closest public viewing experiences with unique experiences such as live commentary from space experts and access to select exhibits and attractions.”

Kranis said other missions, such as recent SpaceX Crew Dragon launches, have attracted similarly large numbers of visitors, with some crowds as high as 250,000. Fortunately, there are over 10,000 hotel rooms and 4,500 vacation homes in the surrounding county, but there will also be many other visitors who will come to the launch without having to book accommodation.

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

A crowd watches as the massive Artemis I rocket is carried on a mobile launch pad en route to Launch Pad 39B from the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, 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, director of KSC’s Exploration Ground Systems, told Florida Today that even KSC employees are looking forward to the launch. “The growing sense of energy and excitement that has steadily built up around Kennedy and among our staff over the past year is palpable,” Bolger said. “The sense of anticipation is growing every day as we get closer to launching this amazing rocket and spacecraft.”

KSC director Janet Petro said the entire 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 stand together looking up at the sky on launch day, I don’t think the world will feel that way.”

Follow Brett on Twitter: @brettingley (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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