Science & Technology

Could first US manned mission since 2011 revive Florida’s Space Coast?

By Alberto Carreiro

Miami, May 25 (efe-epa).- In July 1969, around a million people gathered in Cape Canaveral to witness the launch of Apollo 11.

That year saw man step on the Moon for the first time and tourism in Florida’s Space Coast boomed, something the region now aims to revive.

Weather permitting, on 27 May an Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral (east coast of Florida) with the Crew Dragon capsule with two NASA astronauts aboard.

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) in the United States’ first manned mission since 2011 when NASA cancelled the shuttle program.

SpaceX and NASA are also planning a manned Moon mission for 2024 and to reach Mars for the first time in 2030, under the Artemis program, which is also for commercial purposes.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are reportedly planning to attend the launch of Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, a sign of a renewed effort to establish the US’ leadership in space.

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the customary crowds that camp out on the planes to catch a glimpse of the take-off will not be there.

Those who do wish to watch the historic journey have been invited to do so from nearby beaches provided crowds do not form.

According to Peter Cranis, Executive Director at Space Coast Office of Tourism, before the pandemic, they were expecting Wednesday’s launch to draw around half a million people.

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