Went to Nasa for the Biggest Rocket Launch Ever – Three Weird Things That Happened Including Weird Food

NASA finally launched its Artemis 1 mission on November 16, and I was at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch.

The Space Launch System is NASA’s largest rocket to date and successfully launched the unmanned Orion capsule on a 26-day mission around the Moon.

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This was the view from NASA's Kennedy Space Center press site

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This was the view from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center press siteCredit: Charlotte Edwards/The US Sun
NASA keeps a huge countdown clock on the lawn of the nearest observation site

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NASA keeps a huge countdown clock on the lawn of the nearest observation siteCredit: Charlotte Edwards/The US Sun
Nasa astronauts like Stan Love (pictured here) watched the launch with me

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Nasa astronauts like Stan Love (pictured here) watched the launch with meCredit: Charlotte Edwards/The US Sun

Watching a space launch from NASA isn’t always fun.

While it was worth the experience to watch history unfold, viewing from the Nasa press site can be a weird experience.

Stay awake for 30 hours

If you’re going to watch a rocket launch at or near Kennedy Space Center, you probably won’t get much sleep.

Nasa asked reporters to arrive from 5 p.m. ET (2200 GMT) on November 15 despite the rocket not launching until 1:47 a.m. ET (6:47 GMT) the following day.

This meant that many journalists, astronauts and Nasa executives had to stay awake for very long periods of time to cover the launch and the events that followed.

Often people stay awake from the day before and work until the end.

Members of the public wishing to view the launch from the surrounding area are advised to get up and exit early as the roads are jammed with traffic.

Keen rocket launch watchers should also be warned that Nasa usually cancels launches unless everything is perfect.

Artemis 1 almost did not launch on November 16 due to a leaking engine and loose screws.

An emergency team was able to enter the danger zone of the rocket and fix the screws in time, but two previous attempts at Artemis 1 were abandoned for similar issues.

Questionable food

NASA advises people at the press site to bring their own food, but sometimes provides a food truck.

I’ve been to Kennedy Space Center four times this year as the US space agency tried and failed to launch Artemis 1.

Almost every time the only food offered was donuts, moon pies or grilled cheese sandwiches.

This included grilled cheese sandwiches offered in the early hours of the morning.

Prepare to run for your life

Press and guests can view the rocket launches right next to the Mission Control Center.

This is the closest distance a human could be to the launch of the Artemis 1 rocket and stay safe.

The site is about three miles away.

Despite the great distance, reporters had to be prepared to run to a designated shelter if the rocket exploded.

Rocket explosion hazards include acid rain and debris.

Fortunately, Artemis 1 launched smoothly at 1:47 a.m. ET (6:47 a.m. GMT), just 43 minutes after the two-hour launch window opened.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson described the launch as the brightest he had seen with the biggest shock wave he had experienced.

The take off was so bright I had to wear sunglasses and you can feel the force of the shock wave shaking your body.

The brightness hits you first and the vibrations and sound come soon after.

NASA’s Space Launch System remained visible for a few minutes before disappearing into a small dot next to the Moon.

What is Artemis 1?

Artemis 1 is not a crewed mission, but it is to circle the Moon to test three key components.

These are NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), its Orion spacecraft and the European Service Module (ESM).

The Orion spacecraft and ESM are expected to approach within 62 miles of the lunar surface and then travel 40,000 miles beyond.

After looping around the dark side of the Moon, the rocket is expected to land in the Pacific Ocean off San Diego.

Nasa will be watching the Artemis 1 mission closely as it moves away from Earth in case it needs to be aborted again.

Artemis 1 is important because it prepares for Artemis 2, which will carry humans around the Moon within the next two years.

Both missions stack up to Artemis 3, which aims to put the first woman and the first person of color on the lunar surface.

Nasa says it has now started “a new chapter in human lunar exploration.”

The launch was not certain until 10 minutes before

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The launch was not certain until 10 minutes beforeCredit: Charlotte Edwards/The US Sun
The press site is next to Mission Control and the huge Nasa Vehicle Assembly Building

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The press site is next to Mission Control and the huge Nasa Vehicle Assembly BuildingCredit: Charlotte Edwards/The US Sun
Grilled cheese was the main source of food for most journalists

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Grilled cheese was the main source of food for most journalistsCredit: Charlotte Edwards/The US Sun

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