Up to 400,000 spectators are expected in Florida to take off to the moon

Cocoa Beach | Space-hungry tourists flock to Florida in hopes of witnessing an unprecedented sight Saturday: NASA’s new rocket launch on the moon, which could attract up to 400,000 people, according to local authorities.

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The first launch of the SLS rocket, for the Artemis 1 mission, promises to be amazing, as it is the most powerful rocket the US space agency has ever built.

The Kennedy Space Center, where it will be launched, is closed to the public, but spectators will be able to see it soar into the sky and hear its roar from the surrounding beaches in particular.

“I remember some moon landings when I was very young” during the Apollo program, Alberto Tirado told AFP in an interview in Cocoa Beach the day before the scheduled launch.

On Monday, the first launch attempt was called off at the last minute due to technical issues. Then the local authorities expected between 100,000 and 200,000 visitors.

Brevard County Sheriff Don Walker told AFP Friday that the total number of tourists who have already traveled has yet to be confirmed, but could “double” anyway this weekend.

“We estimate the crowd for the launch is between 200,000 and 400,000 people,” he said.

For comparison, the first manned launch of SpaceX in 2020 attracted 220,000 people (in the midst of a pandemic).

He explained to AFP that the fact that the launch is now not expected on a weekday, but on a weekend – which is moreover a long weekend with a public holiday on Monday – combined with its historical character, contributes to the success of the expected attendance. Megan Abel, of the Florida Space Coast Tourist Office.

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She said visitors are encouraged to get on the road early to avoid traffic jams, expected like Monday from “three or four hours” before takeoff, scheduled for 2:17 p.m.

Hotels on the coast have been full for several weeks, and parking spaces near the best viewpoints will be limited.

The Artemis 1 mission is a test flight without an astronaut on board. Orion’s rocket-powered capsule will spend about six weeks in space, venturing up to 64,000 kilometers behind the moon, farther than any other habitable vehicle to date.

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