- NASA’s first lunar-focused Space Launch System rocket, Artemis I, is scheduled to launch on August 29.
- Space Coast officials in Florida expect at least 100,000 visitors for the first launch window.
- Artemis I’ll be an unmanned mission. Its success will lead NASA to put astronauts on the moon sometime after 2024.
Brevard County, Florida – All sold out hotels. Excitement that seems to be increasing day by day. The To hundreds of thousands of visitorssupport staff and more.
These are just a few of the factors factored into preparations for Artemis I, NASA’s first lunar-focused rocket launch scheduled for August 29. At 322 feet tall, it promises to be the largest and most powerful rocket ever launched from the Florida space coast in years – bringing with it a level of excitement to match.
Finally, Space Coast officials expect at least 100,000 visitors for the rocket’s first window, which includes opportunities on August 29, September 2 and September 5 (Labor Day). Currently, T-0 is set August 29 at 8:33 a.m. ET from Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The rocket is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the Moon sometime this decade. This begins with the unmanned Artemis I mission and its plan to take the Orion capsule on a four- to six-week journey to the moon and back. Artemis II will do the same with astronauts, then Artemis III will put two astronauts on the surface sometime after 2024.
August 29:NASA is preparing for a mission to return to the moon, targeting in late August the launch of Artemis I
Sold Hotels, Space Coast Tourism
It’s not unusual for the Space Coast to launch daytime crowds. During the space shuttle era that lasted until 2011, half a million or more visitors occasionally flooded the area, collecting hotel rooms and rounding up local businesses.
Since then, the crowds have been smaller, but still big. Even at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands are still flocking to Brevard County in Florida to watch the launches.
Some of the recent SpaceX Crew Dragon launches, which carry astronauts to the International Space Station from KSC, have drawn between 100,000 and 250,000 visitors, according to Peter Kranes, CEO of Space Coast Tourism Office. It would not be an exaggeration to expect more than 100,000 for Artemis I.
Watch:NASA completes future Artemis booster test launch
“I think these manned launches and Artemis launches will be of equal benefit to people,” Kranes said. “I certainly expect more than 100,000, if not more, to come for it.”
Just a peek at hotel room listings shows that supply is quickly dwindling among those that aren’t sold out.
space themed Courtyard by Marriott Titusville – Kennedy Space CenterOne of the newer hotels in the area, for example. Completed this year and opened to the public in April, it features views of the KSC and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station platforms and even has a “Space Bar” deck specifically for viewing the launch.
All of the Courtyard rooms, along with the Space Bar, were sold for Artemis I.
Energy and Excitement: Space Center staff and media prepare for launch
Onlookers aren’t the only expected visitors to the Space Coast. Hundreds of media professionals from around the world signed up to cover the take-off as well.
The KSC’s public affairs team has confirmed at least 700 media records to date, a number that dwarfs typical launches and is closer to the crowds seen during the space shuttle program. Heather Scott, a spokeswoman for the Space Force’s Delta 45 space launch vehicle, said the military branch would also step in to help manage the media.
“The increased sense of energy and excitement that has been steadily building around Kennedy and among our workforce in the past year is palpable,” said Mike Bolger, Director of Ground Exploration Systems at KSC. “The sense of anticipation is growing every day as we get closer to launching this amazing rocket and spacecraft.”
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From an employee’s perspective, auto release permits that can be used to bring in personal vehicles — and family and friends — are in high demand.
And it’s not just about watching launch day: employees who don’t work directly at Artemis handle items that aren’t critical to those who do, even going so far as to buy their lunch to help save time.
“The excitement throughout the center is palpable,” said Janet Petro, director of a Kuwaiti shareholding company. “You can see it in people’s faces, you can hear it in their voices, and when we stand together with our eyes to the sky on launch day, I don’t think there will be a feeling in the world like that.”
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Artemis open the windows
If the SLS can’t fly through the first window in late August through early September, the teams have several other opportunities until the end of the year. Although a delay from the initial window will mean the SLS and Orion will have to be brought back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for further work, which could mean shifts to other launch opportunities in October, November or December.
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