A crowd the size of a major American city may turn out to watch NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar rocket lift off this weekend.
Artemis 1 it was supposed to launch from the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida’s Brevard County, on Monday morning (Aug. 29). According to county officials (opens in a new tab)100,000 to 200,000 people flocked to the Space Coast to see that attempt, which was canceled due to a problem with one of the first stage engines on Artemis 1. space launch system (SLS) rocket.
The mission team believes the problem is minor, involving a faulty temperature sensor, and plans to move forward with another takeoff attempt on saturday (September 3) at 14:17 EDT (1817 GMT). That’s smack in the middle of Labor Day weekend, which could allow a lot more people to see the uncrewed launch firsthand.
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In fact, Brevard County officials are expecting a large crowd, perhaps double what they saw on Monday, between 200,000 and 400,000 people. the Orlando Sentinel reported Thursday (opens in a new tab) (September 1st). And other Space Coast officials agree with that estimate.
“We’re confident that it will be more than we had on Monday, because it’s a four ship day in port, a historic launch, a weekend launch and a holiday weekend, some of the main reasons why visitors come here wrapped up. in a single day,” Meagan Happel, public relations manager and film commissioner for the Florida Space Coast Tourism Office, told Space.com via email. “So, yes, we’re screening possibly twice our original estimate with the amount of interest there has been.
In perspective: 400,000 people is about population of New Orleans or Tampa. That’s a lot of people to watch a rocket launch, but this isn’t just any mission. Artemis 1 is the debut flight of the 322-foot-tall (98-meter) SLS, which is more powerful than the Saturn Vthe iconic rocket that launched the Apollo spacecraft to the moon half a century ago.
This weekend’s launch will also be NASA’s first. artemis programwhose objective is to establish a permanent and sustainable human presence in and around Moon in the late 2020s.
Artemis 1 will send an uncrewed Orion capsule into lunar orbit and back. The main goal is to show that SLS and Orion are ready to start transporting astronauts, which they will start doing on the Artemis 2 mission around the moon in 2024, if all goes according to plan.
Space.com editor Brett Tingley contributed to this report. Mike Wall is the author of “out there (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @migueldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @spacedot.com (opens in a new tab) or in Facebook (opens in a new tab).
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