Massive crowds are expected for the inaugural launch of NASA’s mega-rocket

Spectators watch the liftoff of the space shuttle Atlantis July 8, 2011. The launch was the 135th and final space shuttle launch for NASA.

Spectators watch the liftoff of the space shuttle Atlantis July 8, 2011. The launch was the 135th and final space shuttle launch for NASA.
Photo: Phil Sandlin (PA)

NASA’s SLS rocket is set to launch for the first time in just three weeks, rumbling across the launch pad with 8.8 million pounds of thrust. There will be thousands upon thousands of spectators to watch it take flight, as the Artemis era officially begins.

The 322-foot-tall Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built, launching with 15% more power than the Apollo-era Saturn V rocket and nearly 12% more power as the system that put the space shuttle into orbit. Witnessing an SLS launch will be a feast for the senses and a major attraction for tourists visiting Florida’s Space Coast.

Artemis 1 – the inaugural launch of SLS – is currently scheduled for August 29 at 8:33 a.m. ET, with save windows available on September 2 and 5. A local tourism official says Florida Today that mmore … than 100,000 visitors are expected at the launch, during which SLS will ascend from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center and attempt to send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a 42-day trip around the Moon and back. The launch will mean the start of the It was Artemis and potentially set the stage for a crewed rehearsal of the mission in 2024 and a crewed mission to the lunar surface no earlier than 2025.

The Space Coast is no stranger to large crowds. In the days of the shuttle, it was not uncommon for half a million people to attend a launch, and as Peter Cranis, executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism, told Florida Today, the SpaceX Crew Dragons launches attract up to 250,000 people. visitors. As a result, the estimate of 100,000 people for the SLS launch may be low, although it’s hard to tell.

En effet, l’enthousiasme pour le programme Artemis de la NASA n’a pas été grand. Plus tôt cette année, none of the competitors on Danger! was aware of the upcoming lunar missionsand at a NASA press conference on August 3, a reporter from Ohio claimed that only two 30 people in its newsroom knew the United States was going back to the Moon. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson was surprised by the claim, saying that reporters in Orlando were certainly aware of the Artemis missions and that any moon landings would capture public attention and reach the nation’s front pages.

Either way, the influx of visitors to the area could strain the region’s ability to accommodate them. Florida Today says just over 10,000 hotel rooms and 4,500 vacation units are available in Brevard County. That said, many visitors from surrounding areas, such as Orlando, won’t be staying the night.

For tourists, the Space Coast is aptly named. In addition to his Gorgeous beaches, this coastal stretch of the Atlantic is now witness to a steady stream of rocket launches. The current year alone has already seen 32 launches from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral, at a rate not seen since the 1960s.

Tourists can watch these launches from the beach, in designated areas near the launch pad, and even from a rooftop bar. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex features another attraction, including the new Gateway: the deep space launch complexwhich presents a scale model of SLS, spacesuit replicasand a SpaceX Falcon Heavy booster.

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