Artemis launch: Space Coast hotels are filling up. Where should I stay to watch NASA mega moon rocket liftoff?

·6 min read

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Aug. 30 update: NASA officials said teams are prepping for a 2:17 p.m. EDT Saturday, Sept. 3, liftoff of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule from pad 39B. It will mark the opening of a two-hour window.

Original story posted Aug. 18:

What can make a weekend trip to Florida better?

How about a mega moon rocket launch?

As NASA preps for its Space Launch System rocket launch at the end of the month, the Space Coast could see a bump in visitors. Hotels here are filling up, and 100,000 visitors are expected to watch NASA's mega moon rocket launch on Aug. 29.

An Aug. 17 check on travel sites online shows there are still hotel rooms available the weekend of Aug. 29, with prices ranging from $80 to $500 per night, and they are expected to fill up fast. The prices and search results are about the same for the following weekend — Labor Day weekend. NASA has two other launch attempts that weekend if the SLS doesn't launch at the end of this month (scroll below for those launch times).

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The Artemis launch and summer vacation contribute to the many sold-out queries. Because Space Coast hotels are filling up, we compiled a guide with tips on where to stay.

What cities should I search for when booking online?

You’re guaranteed to get a beautiful view of the rocket launch anywhere on the Space Coast — so long as the weather and cloud cover cooperate, of course. But if you’re not from the Brevard County area and you’re just visiting, these are the cities you should put in your search queries and the approximate mileage away from Kennedy Space Center.

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"On the mainland"

Brevard is a long county with 72 miles of coast. Watching a rocket launch at the beach is popular for tourists and locals. If you're "on the mainland" here, that means you're blocks or miles from the beach. However, the Banana River and Indian River Lagoon run through Brevard, and almost all of these cities on this section below offer a riverfront view perfect for a launch.

Mims, 18 miles away

Titusville, 14 miles away

Port St. John, 12 miles away

Cocoa, 12 miles away

Merritt Island, 16 miles away

Viera, 27 miles away

Melbourne, 35 to 45 miles away

West Melbourne, 43 miles away

Palm Bay, 39 to 48 miles away

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If you're staying "on the beach ..."

Watching a rocket launch from the beach is so Space Coast. These are the beach cities you should put in your search queries and the approximate mileage from Kennedy Space Center.

Cape Canaveral, 15 miles away

Cocoa Beach, 20 miles away

Satellite Beach, 30 miles away

Indian Harbour Beach, 32 miles away

Indialantic, 36 miles away

Melbourne Beach, 37 miles away

Cities outside the Space Coast

If you don’t mind a drive, here’s a list of cities (and counties) outside of the Space Coast to put in your search queries for a place to stay. We’ll include the approximate mileage (and traffic time) from Kennedy Space Center. Here's a tip: Leave early to allow yourself plenty of time to find parking and get situated.

Volusia County, north of Brevard

Oak Hill, 35 miles away, about 40 minutes

New Smyrna Beach, 49 miles away, about an hour

Daytona Beach, 63 miles away, about an hour and 10 minutes

Indian River County, south of Brevard

Sebastian, 66 to 71 miles away, about an hour and 15 minutes

Vero Beach, 69 to 81 miles away, about 75 to 90 minutes

Wabasso, 61 to 73 miles away, about 70 to 90 minutes

St. Lucie County, south of Brevard

Fort Pierce, 87 to 94 miles away

Jensen Beach, 102 to 108 miles away, 90 minutes to two hours

Martin County, south of Brevard

Stuart, 116 miles away, about two hours

Hobe Sound, 131 miles away, about two hours

Orange County, west of Brevard

East Orlando, 45 to 60 miles away, about an hour

University of Central Florida, 35 miles away, about 50 minutes

When should I book to watch Artemis launch?

NASA has three attempts for its SLS rocket launch:

  • Launch window 1: 8:33 to 10:33 a.m. EDT Monday, Aug. 29

  • Launch window 2: 12:48 to 2:48 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 2 (Labor Day weekend)

  • Launch window 3: 5:12 to 6:32 p.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 5 (Labor Day)

While you're on the Space Coast

While you're here to see NASA's SLS mega moon rocket launch, might as well make it a mini-vacation.

There are plenty of things to do and places to go. For example, the Space Coast has 72 miles of beach, and some of the best surfers in the world (we're looking at you, Kelly Slater), grew up in this area. Coincidentally, the 37th annual National Kidney Foundation Rich Salick Surf Festival will be from Sept. 3-5 in Cocoa Beach.

Aside from Kennedy Space Center, the Space Coast is home to Port Canaveral, the second busiest port in the world, and Brevard Zoo.

Places to stay include vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, condo rentals, campgrounds and hotels.

Florida vacation rentals

Sites like Airbnb, Vacation Rental By Owner, hotels.com, search engines like Google and Bing, or third-party travel-booking sites have vacancy info.

Campgrounds in Brevard County and Central Florida

Making the drive to the Space Coast in a camper? Consider these options below from Brevard County Parks and Recreation:

  • Manatee Hammock, a 26-acre campground in Titusville 8 miles away from Kennedy Space Center

  • Wickham Park, a 391-acre campground in Melbourne 31 miles away from Kennedy Space Center

  • Long Point Park, an 84-acre campground in Melbourne Beach 52 miles away from Kennedy Space Center

For a full list of Brevard County Parks and Recreation campgrounds, visit brevardfl.gov/ParksAndRecreation.

There are, of course, some campgrounds just outside the Space Coast.

For a list of Indian River County Parks and Recreation campgrounds, visit ircgov.com/parksandrecreation.

How to watch Artemis I rocket launch from your phone

When and where: If you're not tuning in to the watch from the Space Coast, but want to check it out online, you can. FLORIDA TODAY's Space Team will have full coverage of the launch, including a live webcast with live tweets and updates, on Aug. 29 at floridatoday.com/space (you can type this on your browser on your phone) and will feature in-depth coverage. Ask our space team reporter 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.

Click here to download FLORIDA TODAY app on App Store

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Sangalang is a digital producer and social media champ for USA TODAY Network-Florida. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @byjensangalang.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: NASA SLS rocket launch to draw mega crowds. Where to stay in Brevard