Tourists Flock To Florida For Moon Rocket Launch
Joanne Bostandji said seeing a rocket launch to the moon was a “once in a lifetime experience.”
The 45-year-old traveled all the way from northern England to Florida with her husband and two children for a space-themed vacation, and as NASA’s latest move, they’re ready to make sure nothing is missed. The most powerful rocket in a second is scheduled to launch for the first time on Monday.
“The plan is to drive early in the morning and find a spot at Cocoa Beach,” not far from the Kennedy Space Center, she said.
“I know it’s going to be from far away, but I still think it’s going to be a sight to behold,” Bostangi told AFP as the family waited to enter a park dedicated to space exploration.
Between 100,000 and 200,000 tourists are expected to take part in the launch of the mission, called Artemis 1, which will propel an empty space capsule to the moon as part of a future crewed flight test.
Megan Happel of Florida’s Space Coast Tourism told AFP that Monday’s “historic” flight, the first of several U.S. flights back to the moon, “has definitely increased public interest.”
The traffic jam is expected to start at 4am with the launch at 8.33am (1233GMT).
If the launch faces weather delays, more people may show up because make-up dates are weekends.
Sabrina Morley found an apartment for rent not far from the beach and plans to take her two children and dozens of others to a rental company called Star Fleet Tours ship.
At $95 a ticket, she said, “we’ll be as close as possible to the launch site, and we’ll be on board watching the launch.”
“I’ve never been this close to a launch before,” said the 43-year-old, who grew up in Orlando, less than an hour away.
As a child, she could watch the space shuttle take off from her backyard as an “orange smoke ball” rising into the sky.
“We would hear sonic booms,” she recalls.
Morley likes NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land a woman on the moon for the first time, with a crew to the moon as early as 2025.
“Representation is important,” she said, glancing at her two-year-old daughter, who already wore a faux astronaut helmet on her head.
The return of the famous space launch is an economic boon for the region. According to the Tourism Board, a family of three will spend an average of $1,300 in four or five days.
On the main road to Merritt Island, a peninsula where the Kennedy Space Center is located, Brenda Mulberry’s space souvenir shop is packed with tourists.
Once inside, visitors are greeted by Artemis T-shirts on sale, which are printed in-house — 1,000 copies were made on Saturday alone.
Mulberry, who founded Space Shirts in 1984, told AFP there had been an influx of customers in the past few days.
“I think they’re happy to see NASA launch because the private space business is not that motivating for people,” she said.
The rocket, called the SLS — whose large model is displayed in front of her store — “belongs to the people,” Mulberry said.
“It’s their rocket. It’s not a SpaceX rocket,” she added.
The Apollo rocket program has an air of nostalgia—50 years have passed since the last manned landing on the moon in 1972.
“My family, they had to go to a neighbor’s house to watch (the Apollo mission) because they didn’t have a TV,” said Bostangi, who was not yet born.
“Now we want to see it real.”
Learn about IBT news from the following sources
© Copyright AFP 2022. all rights reserved.