Photo: NASA | Kim Shiflett
Brevard expects 100,000 tourists for Artemis 1 launch, “I think we are in for a really great ride.”
The original moon missions were instant hits for Florida tourism decades ago, and if early reservations for the anticipated launch dates for Artemis 1 are any indication, Brevard County will be seeing history repeat itself. Some 100,000 tourists are expected to flood into the area when the new unmanned mission goes up.
With private space industry launches growing more frequent, the Space Coast launch tourism has also picked up pace. “We are the number one launch location in the world,” says Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Peter Cranis. “They launch more rockets here than in Russia and China combined.”
The announcement of the launch windows for Artemis 1 caused such a rush for tickets that the website at Kennedy Space Center crashed. Hotels are reporting full occupancy.
For longtime Space Coast residents, a launch is also a day to play tourist. Cranis grew up in the area after his parents relocated to Brevard County in the 1970s, allowing him to experience the space shuttle launches of the 1980s. He also remembers watching the shuttle program wind down and going out to the beach to watch one of the last shuttles depart on the back of a 747 for its new home in a museum “as tears were streaming down my face.” “Watching the beginning, middle and end of an entire era of space flight was such an incredible time and experience,” he says.
The cadence of launches – both private industry ones as well as U.S. Space Force and the International Space Station – means that there have already been more than 25 this year alone and dozens more are on the books. When Artemis missions begin to include humans with the goal of returning people to the moon in 2025 or 2026, Cranis expects even more tourists will flood the area.
“It sets a whole other bar for us,” he says. “There are so many different types of launches going on, crewed launches to the ISS and now Artemis has regenerated a ton of interest. It’s a whole new era. I think we are in for a really great ride.”