NASA’s Artemis launch at Kennedy Space Center: Launch window, traffic, everything you need to know
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Godspeed, take two.
NASA will try a second time to launch its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at 2:17 p.m. EDT Saturday, Sept. 3, from Kennedy Space Center. That time marks the opening of a two-hour window for launch.
Monday morning’s attempt to get the mega moon rocket off the ground from historic launch pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center was scrubbed due to technical issues.
The Artemis I launch kicks off NASA’s program to send the first woman and first person of color of the moon. The Artemis program would mark the space agency’s return to the moon, more than 50 years after the Apollo program first did so.
The following is a guide with frequently asked questions about NASA’s Artemis launch. Check back with FLORIDA TODAY’s Space Team — reporters Emre Kelly and Jamie Groh and visuals journalists Craig Bailey, Malcolm Denemark and Tim Shortt — at 7 a.m. Saturday for live coverage.
NASA Artemis launch this weekend: How NASA’s prepping for its return to the moon
Will there be people onboard?
No. This is a test flight for the SLS rocket, which will later carry astronauts to the moon. This mission, Artemis I, will send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a 37-day journey around the moon and back. If successful, it will pave the way for astronauts to fly a similar profile on Artemis II no earlier than 2024. Then, Artemis III, sometime after 2025, would put two astronauts back on the lunar surface after a more than 50 year hiatus.
What will traffic be like on launch day?
We’re not going to lie. Traffic is going to be heavy. Be prepared to wait. Get there early. Have a full tank of gas.
The historic launch is expected to attract 200,000 people to the Space Coast — on a holiday weekend when there will be four cruise ships at Port Canaveral, Brevard County Emergency Management officials tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
“As you head out for weekend activities please plan for traffic congestion and factor in additional travel time, especially if you are headed toward the beaches or the north area of the county for the #Artemis launch,” the agency tweeted.
Also, there’s a surf festival in Cocoa Beach this weekend. In years past, surf festivals in Brevard have drawn 10,000 visitors to the Cocoa Beach Pier.
What’s the weather going to be like on launch day?
Despite two tropical disturbances and a tropical storm over Atlantic waters, Brevard is expected to see typical summer weather for Labor Day weekend.
The Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron says weather should be 60% go at the beginning of the two-hour launch window, improving to 80% go by the end of the window.
If you are going to be outside waiting for the launch, expect typical summer in Florida weather said Cassie Leahy, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Melbourne location. Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 80s to lower 90s along the Space Coast, though the temperature will feel like 100 to 105 degrees because of the humidity, Leahy said.
Hot with a chance of rain:Typical summer weather expected for Labor Day weekend along the Space Coast despite offshore storms
Where can I watch the NASA Artemis launch?
There are very few “bad” places to watch a rocket launch on the Space Coast, but some spots offer truly spectacular views. We have 72 miles of coast, so pick a spot, any spot along one of our beaches, from Cape Canaveral to Melbourne Beach. Playalinda Beach, which lies north of the space center as part of the Canaveral National Seashore, will be closed to the public for the launch.
If you’re not on the Space Coast, the launch could be visible to neighboring counties north and south of us. We’re talking northern parts of Volusia County or areas in Indian River County, St. Lucie County and Martin County.
How can I watch the NASA Artemis launch remotely?
If you can’t visit Space Coast to watch NASA Artemis launch live, you can livestream it.
Full coverage of the launch, including a live webcast with live tweets and updates, kicks off about 7 a.m. Saturday at floridatoday.com/space (you can type this on your browser on your phone) and will feature in-depth coverage. Ask our FLORIDA TODAY space team reporters Emre Kelly or Jamie Groh questions and strike up a conversation. You also can watch coverage via the FLORIDA TODAY app, which is available in the App Store or Google Play. FLORIDA TODAY is part of the USA TODAY Network.
What will Artemis I sound like? Will it be loud?
NASA’s SLS rocket is a behemoth. It’s more powerful than rockets that have flown from Florida’s Space Coast in decades. Its imposing height – 322 feet – makes it roughly 100 feet taller than other operational vehicles launched from the Eastern Range.
Hearing and feeling the power of SLS – or any rocket for that matter – will depend on a host of factors surrounding viewing sites. Everything from winds to humidity to trees can change what you hear and feel.
“Put this down first: it’s going to be loud,” John Blevins, NASA’s chief SLS engineer, told FLORIDA TODAY. “Nobody’s going to be in danger, but it’s going to be as loud as a Saturn V rocket.”
But there will be variations, many of which will depend on location and local weather.
Here’s the science behind it:NASA’s huge Artemis launch is going to be loud, but how loud? That depends
How big is NASA’s Artemis I rocket?
NASA rockets by the numbers: Space Launch System
- Height: 322 feet
- Weight: 5.74 million lbs. when fueled
- Thrust: 8.8 million lbs.
- Payload Capacity: 95 tons to low Earth orbit; 27 tons to lunar orbit
- Cost Per Launch: $4.1 billion
NASA rockets by the numbers: Space shuttle
- Height: 184 feet
- Weight: 4.5 million lbs. when fueled
- Thrust: 7.8 million lbs.
- Payload Capacity: 22 tons to low Earth orbit
- Cost Per Launch: $1.75 billion adjusted for inflation
NASA rockets by the numbers: Saturn V
- Height: 363 feet
- Weight: 6.2 million lbs. when fueled
- Thrust: 7.6 million lbs.
- Payload Capacity: 130 tons to low Earth orbit; 50 tons to lunar orbit
- Cost Per Launch: $1.16 billion adjusted for inflation
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