Home to Space Camp®, Aviation Challenge® Camp, Space Camp Robotics, and U.S. Cyber Camp the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) is the most comprehensive U.S. manned spaceflight hardware museum in the world. Its large rocket and space hardware collection is valued in the tens of millions of dollars. From America’s first satellite, Explorer I, to next generation space vehicles like Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser, the museum showcases the past, present and future of human spaceflight. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center serves as the Official NASA Visitor Center for Marshall Space Flight Center and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
U.S. Space & Rocket Center
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center hosted a record 626,000 visitors last year and they came from every state in the U.S. and 64 foreign nations. 61,000 of these guests were students on school trips and 26,000 attended as part of a Space Camp program.
We are convinced that science centers and museums play a vital role in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. According to the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), which represents 353 U.S. science centers and museums, nearly 63 million visits are made to science centers and museums a year.
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, visited the Center in September 2014, and his initial observation was “You can’t beat this classroom!”
The USSRC’s large rocket and space hardware collection contains more than 1,500 items and is valued in the tens of millions of dollars. From America’s first satellite, Explorer I, to next generation space vehicles like Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser, the museum showcases the past, present and future of human spaceflight.
- National Historic Landmark Saturn V Moon Rocket
- Pathfinder – the world’s only full-stack space shuttle display
- Apollo 16 Command Module
- Skylab Orbital Workshop
- Apollo 12 Moon Rock
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is more than just artifacts! Experience the physics of astronaut training in simulators like Moon Shot and G-Force. Our world-class INTUITIVE® Planetarium transports you through our universe and beyond with live shows and movies in a 67-foot dome theater.
There’s always something happening at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center!
Space Camp has been helping inspire the next generation of explorers for more than 32 years. This internationally known program with more than 700,000 alumni is based on NASA astronaut training and focuses on teamwork and leadership skills. Launched in 1982, Space Camp has inspired and motivated young people from around the country, and later the world, with attendees from all 50 states, U.S. territories and more than 150 foreign countries.
Based at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, trainees have an unparalleled environment to spur imagination while being surrounded by space, aviation and defense artifacts.
- Space Camp is located in Huntsville, Alabama.
- Space Camp challenges trainees to transcend from “What if?” to “Can do!”
- Space Camp alumni include NASA and ESA astronauts, engineers, scientists and technologists.
- Trainees cultivate teamwork, leadership and decision-making skills through simulated missions while gaining personal and professional insights that profoundly impact their futures.
- Space Camp is the brainchild of rocket scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun, who led the development of the Apollo-era rockets that took America to the moon, and Mr. Edward O. Buckbee, the first director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
- Camps are available for fourth-grade through high school-age students (between the ages of 9 to 18).
- Special programs are offered for trainees who are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, and those who have other special needs.
- You’re never too old for Space Camp! Camp programs are also available for adults, educators, corporate groups and families. Family programs may include children as young as seven years old.
- Space Camp has attracted more than 900,000 trainees since its inception.
History and Overview
Our story began when Dr. Wernher von Braun and his rocket team first came to the United States in 1945 under military contract to create ballistic rockets. They were sent to Fort Bliss, Texas to work on rocket development, but after inspecting the Redstone facilities in Huntsville which had been used during World War II for the production of pyrotechnical devices, they deemed it a better location and proposed a guided missile center. On March 21, 1950, the von Braun rocket team moved to Huntsville and joined a group of U.S. rocketry specialists. Together, they would go on to create some of the world’s first rockets and satellites to orbit the Earth, and ultimately, the Saturn V rocket that sent the American Apollo astronauts to the moon, achieving the ultimate goal of preeminence in space.
Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team of rocket scientists transformed Huntsville, Alabama, known in the 1950s as the “Watercress Capital of the World,” into a technology center that today is home to the second largest research park in the United States and to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) with its world-class educational program, Space Camp®.
The transformation grew from the smoke and fire that birthed America's space program. It is here in Huntsville that:
- Rockets were developed that put the first U.S. satellite into orbit and sent men to the moon;
- Propulsion for the space shuttle was developed
- Modules for the International Space Station (ISS) were designed and built;
- America’s next great ship – the Space Launch System – is being designed;
- Science on the ISS is monitored 24/7 at the Payload Operations Center at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).
During the final months that von Braun and his team of scientists were refining the giant Saturn V rocket that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon, he was also preparing to launch another important project: a permanent exhibit to showcase the hardware of the space program. Von Braun was director of MSFC when he approached the Alabama Legislature with the idea of creating a museum jointly with the U.S. Army Missile Command and NASA. The U.S. Army donated land, and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center® opened its doors in 1970. Since then, nearly 17 million people have toured the Center. Many of the more than 650,000 annual visitors are school students on field trips to their future. Dozens of interactive exhibits encourage guest participation, prompting one official to note: "Here, everyone can be an astronaut for the day!"
The Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission
The Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission (ASSEC) was created as an agency of the State of Alabama and is empowered by state law to provide oversight and direction for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center©. The Governor of the State of Alabama makes all appointments to the 18 member Commission. ASSEC members must reside in the State of Alabama and be knowledgeable and interested in national defense, energy information and space exploration and in the promotion of interest in such fields. ASSEC Members:
- Mr. Wes Kelley, Chair
- MG (Ret.) Barbara Fast, Vice Chair
- MG (Ret.) Jim Rogers, Secretary
- Mr. Rey Almodóvar
- Mr. David Azbell
- Mr. Waymon Burke
- Dr. Joe Fitzgerald
- Mr. Homer Hickam
- Mr. J Scott Hunter
- Col (Ret.) Roosevelt Lewis
- COL (Ret.) Craig Naudain
- Mr. John Nerger
- Mr. Joe Newberry
- Sen. Arthur Orr
- Rep. Howard Sanderford
- Ms. Lisa Williams
- Dr. Virginia "Suzy" Young