The tidal frontier: Sand sculptor creates NASA moon rocket replica on Cocoa Beach

Janel Hawkins builds replica of SLS rocket from Artemis I mission

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – This professional sand sculptor wasn’t too spaced out when she decided to recreate NASA’s mega moon rocket on Cocoa Beach.

Thanks to Alabama resident Janel Hawkins, the Space Launch System rocket that launched a week ago on Nov. 16 as part of the Artemis I mission is not just among the stars. It’s among the starfish.

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A professional sand sculptor recreated NASA'S SLS rocket on Cocoa Beach. (Janel Hawkins)

Hawkins, whose boyfriend, Caleb Windham, worked on the actual rocket for years as Boeing’s production manager at Kennedy Space Center, created a replica of the history-making machine in honor of the launch.

“(Windham) literally building the real SLS gave me a perspective into all the hard work that goes into these projects,” Hawkins said. “I was on base for the launch with him and his team.”

The Sand Castle University sculptor had previously built a sand SLS in Mississippi when the rocket was undergoing tests, but thought it would be appropriate to create a similar structure on Cocoa Beach when it finally lifted off.

(From left to right): Caleb Windham and Janel Hawkins, a production manager at Kennedy Space Center and a sand sculptor, pose in front of the rocket replica Hawkins created. (Janel Hawkins)

“Cocoa Beach is a gorgeous town and the sand makes for great sculptures,” said Hawkins, adding the art project took about five hours to complete.

“The sculpture actually fell right after the launch and I thought that was very fitting,” she said.

For more information on her sand sculpting business, Sand Castle University, click here.

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