MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is teaming up with the Rocket City Trash Pandas to host a free watch party for Artemis I Splashdown at Toyota Field.
On Sunday, December 11, the Orion spacecraft is set to make its reentry around 11:40 a.m. in the Pacific Ocean following its flyby of the moon.
“I think we’d been waiting so long for this,” said Pat Ammons, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center director of public and media relations. “It’s something so many people have contributed to in our community.”
Ammons said many in Alabama have watched Artemis progress, and Sunday’s watch party is a great opportunity to celebrate the role North Alabamians played in mission preparation.
“We’re really going to have an opportunity to bring in the community in big numbers to celebrate the Orion splashdown in the Pacific Ocean,” Ammons said. “This is the conclusion of a mission that’s not only been several days but also many years in the making.”
The watch party will be held from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., with a “special announcement” about the upcoming 2023 baseball season teased to follow.
Officials say the event is free to attend and is open to the public, saying guests will be able to park in the gravel lot and enter through Pepsi Gate.
A live feed from NASA leading up to the splashdown will play on the video board, while enjoying plenty of family-friendly activities, like balloon art, food trucks and more. Concessions will also be available, with plenty of hot chocolate, cider, soft drinks and snacks to choose from.
You can also take pictures with Trash Pandas mascot Sprocket and Astronaut Racers Neil, Buzz and Sally, along with TOPPS, the Space Camp mascot.
The Orion capsule launched on November 16 atop a Marshall Space Flight Center-managed SLS rocket. By the time it returns, the spacecraft will have traveled a total of 1.3 million miles to the moon and back.
Artemis I’s mission will test both the SLS and Orion for future lunar missions.