Up to 400,000 people are anticipated to converge on the Florida coast on Saturday to see and hear NASA’s rocket launch to the Moon. It will be breathtaking and historic for NASA if the unmanned Space Launch System (SLS) successfully launches, becoming the first of its Artemis missions to plan a return to the Moon.
The Kennedy Space Center will be closed to the general public, but beachgoers in the area can watch as NASA’s most powerful rocket climbs into the sky. The day before the rocket’s scheduled launch, Alberto Tirado told AFP on Cocoa Beach, “I remember when I was a tiny boy and some of the (Apollo) lunar landings.” I want to experience people’s power and feelings in the 1960s.
Local Brevard County officials had anticipated between 100,000 and 200,000 visitors on Monday, but a first launch attempt had to be canceled at the last minute owing to technical difficulties. Although the numbers for Monday have not yet been confirmed, according to the county’s communications director Don Walker, they predict “twice that amount on Saturday.”
Walker told AFP, “we are ‘guesstimating’ that there will be between 200,000 and 400,000 people there to watch the launch.” In contrast, 220,000 people attended SpaceX’s first launch during the pandemic in 2020. According to Meagan Happel with the Space Coast Office of Tourism, the audience is anticipated to be significantly more significant because the launch is scheduled for a weekend, and Monday is also a US holiday.
On Monday, Happel told AFP that high traffic was anticipated “three to four hours” before the launch. On Saturday, liftoff is currently planned for 2:17 PM (18:17 GMT), although there could be a two-hour delay if necessary. Hotels along the seaside have been fully booked for a few weeks, and parking places are scarce near the prime vantage locations.
A test flight without astronauts is called Artemis 1. After disengaging from the SLS rocket, the Orion capsule will spend about six weeks in orbit. It will eventually travel more than 40,000 miles (64,000 km) past the Moon, the farthest any human-grade vehicle has ever traveled. The Orion will then return astronauts to the Moon in 2025 or later, including the first woman and person of color to set foot on the lunar surface.