Space Coast small businesses face possibility of major rocket launch with exponentially less tourists

NASA asks visitors to watch first astronaut mission from KSC in 9 years from home

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – Bed and breakfast Casa Coquina and restaurant Pier 220 offer direct views of Kennedy Space Center but because NASA is asking tourists not to come for next month’s first astronaut mission in nine years, Brevard County officials predict a revenue loss that could be in the tens of millions.

Co-owner Ginny Fitzpatrick said Casa Coquina has already refunded almost $20,000 to guests who've cancelled since the pandemic.

"It's a concern. We haven't received any of the stimulus money yet at all," Fitzpatrick sad.

Fortunately for her business, the deposits are starting to return thanks to the big launch coming up.

Fitzpatrick said she's already nearly booked for May 27, when SpaceX is scheduled to launch a Falcon 9 and Dragon crew capsule to the International Space Station with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on-board.

"It's going to depend on what the government says we can do - whether the state or the county keep restrictions up," Fitzpatrick said about the possibility of refunding her launch guests.

Right now, tourists are not allowed to get a room in Brevard County and restaurants can only serve takeout or delivery.

Dale Ketchum of Space Florida called the timing of the mission a “bizarre” situation.

"We're having this huge event without the fanfare and pageantry," Ketcham said. "We'll just have to figure out a way to make it work."

The county's tourism ban runs as long as the state's stay-at-home order, which as of the time of this report, is expected to end May 1.

Brevard County has not said yet if it will extend its tourism ban another month to cover the launch.

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