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Mark your calendar — Artemis I, the first launch of NASA’s most powerful rocket ever, is scheduled for August 29 at 8:33am ET…

Mark your calendar — Artemis I, the first launch of NASA’s most powerful rocket ever, is scheduled for August 29 at 8:33am ET…

The Space Coast is no stranger to big crowds. During the Shuttle era, it wasn’t 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, launches of SpaceX Crew Dragons are drawing as many as 250,000 visitors. Accordingly, the estimate of 100,000 people for the SLS launch may be on the low side, though it’s tough to tell.

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Indeed, enthusiasm for NASA’s Artemis program hasn’t been great. Earlier this year, none of the contestants on Jeopardy! knew about the upcoming Moon missions, and during a NASA media briefing on August 3, a reporter from Ohio claimed that only two people out of 30 in his newsroom knew that the United States was returning to the Moon. NASA administrator Bill Nelson was taken aback by this claim, saying reporters in Orlando are certainly aware of the Artemis missions and that the eventual Moon landings will capture the public’s attention and reach the nation’s front pages.

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

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For tourists, the Space Coast is truly living up to its name. In addition to its gorgeous beaches, this Atlantic coastal stretch 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, in a pace that hasn’t been 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 presents another attraction, including the newly opened Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex, which features a scale model of SLS, replica spacesuits, and a SpaceX Falcon Heavy booster.

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