Artemis 1 rocket launch: 100,000 people expected to watch launch at Kennedy Space Center; some hotels sold out

Some 100,000 people are estimated to line the Space Coast later this month to watch the test launch of NASA's Artemis 1 mission to the moon. 

Right now, the launch is expected to happen no earlier than the morning of Aug. 29, – and space fans are already prepared, as some hotels are already booked for the event. 

"That is a pretty big number. That's the biggest number I've heard in years," said Tom Williamson, referring to the 100,000 expectation. He manages four hotels in the area.

The estimate comes from the Space Coast Office of Tourism.

This upcoming launch will be part of a series of increasingly complex flights, and will initially be an uncrewed flight to "assure a safe crew module entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery," NASA said. The mission includes the Orion spacecraft aboard a Space Launch System rocket from Kennedy Space Center. 

Williamson said he has 600 rooms total and nearly all of them are sold out for the launch.

"We are already sold out at our Marriott Courtyard, and real close here at our Hampton Inn," he said.

Right now, the launch is set for 8:33 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 29 and there is a two-hour window. Should that not work out, potential launch dates have been reserved for Sept. 2 and Sept. 5.

A lot can impact a launch, including the weather and technical difficulties. 

"Seventy percent of launches don’t go on their initial date and time, and for us, we don’t consider that a bad thing necessarily because if people stay another night, we like that," he said.

And because the launch draws people in, it also draws a lot of money for local hotels, bars, and restaurants. 

Peter Cranis, executive director of Space Coast Office of Tourism, said the average group is three people, and those who stay overnight tend to spend $1,000 on hotel, food, and shopping during launch events. Those who make it a day trip can spend upwards of $150, he said.

"It has a significant impact not just on the hotel community, but on all of our tourism businesses in the county," he said.

As more and more launches are scheduled from the Space Coast and more people travel to see them, more hotels will be needed to meet the demand, Cranis said, and projects are already underway.