Since I grew up in northern Arkansas before the "technological revolution", the only "Huntsville" I knew about, was the town one hour west of where I lived, that was famous for being the home town of the current governor of Arkansas. It was not until I was working at the hospital in Mountain Home, Arkansas, when a co-worker said she was going to be a chaperone for a group of school kids going to "Space Camp", that the town of Huntsville, Alabama came across my "radar screen". When my co-worker returned, she had great things to say about the Space Camp experience, so I have been wanting to visit this place from that moment forward! This photo shows the entrance to Space Camp ( www.spacecamp.com ) , in Huntsville, Alabama.
The lodging accommodations at Space Camp are called "Habitats", and there are three of these Habitats on the campus. The original format as a place for youngsters only, has been modified and adapted, to include programs for adults and families. Also, in addition to the week-long programs, visits are available for a one night/two day stay, as well as a two night/three day program. You can see the interiors of the Habitats by visiting their websites.
This Space Shuttleexhibit is adjacent to the Space Camp habitat, and it is HUGE! Tour guides will explain how this new space shuttle design differs from the propulsion system of the Saturn V, that was used for the manned lunar missions.
One can arrange an optional bus tour to go visit the Marshall Space Flight Center. The tour includes stops at historic test stand sites, and the Payload Operations Center. The Payload Operations Center is the science command post for the International Space Station (ISS). The tour bus riders also see the central research hub for propulsion systems and technologies---called the Propulsion Research and Development Laboratory.
I included this drone photo as a reminder to mention that a new feature added to the educational offerings at the Space and Rocket Center, is a Robotics Camp. It is specifically designed to teach interested young people about the engineering and design of robotics on land, in the air, and underwater. Now that drone technology has trickled down to a gift a youngster finds under their Christmas tree, I predict more and more kids will be wanting to attend Robotics Camp!
A bus tour also includes visits to the Redstone Arsenal, headquarters to the Army Material Command. Visitors can see the National Historic Landmark Redstone Test Stand, and the Dynamic Test Stand, used to test the Saturn 5 Rocket.
At the entrance to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, you will see this group of signs, that tells some of its history. Since its opening in 1970, it has helped educate the public about these significant events about Huntsville, Alabama: It is where rockets were developed that put the first U.S. satellite into orbit and sent men to the moon. It is where the propulsion of the space shuttle was developed. It is where modules for the International Space Station were designed and built. It is where America's next great ship---The Space Launch System---is being designed (the first flight of the Space Launch System is planned for 2018). And finally, it is where the International Space Station is monitored 24/7.
There are free exhibits that you can see, even before entering the building. This photo shows the Lockheed SR-7, and is a reminder that yet another educational "camp" experience that has been added is the "Aviation Challenge", where one can get the experience of being a fighter pilot. In addition to the permanent exhibits, there are also temporary traveling exhibits that you can investigate. To see what is currently available, visit their website at www.rocketcenter.com
This sculpture sits at the entrance to the museum, and reminds me of the quote I read about visiting this place: "Here, everyone can be an astronaut for a day."
As you would expect, they have a very popular gift shop, where just about anything related to space and rockets is available for purchase. In addition, many of these items can be purchased on-line, using the link available on their website.
For those of you who enjoy designing with Leggos, take a look at this model of the Space Shuttle, that was on display in the lobby!
One can also purchasetraditional, "old - fashioned" model kits of space ships. Seeing these models on display reminded me of a time I took my son to Wisconsin's Oshkosh Fly-In . He picked out a model airplane kit he wanted, and was able to get it assembled, as he sat in the passenger seat of the car, for our 10-hour drive home. As you might expect, those were the days before hand-held video games, so I doubt that such an activity would satisfy an adolescent boy these days!
There is a plaza adjacent to the museum that is open to the public, and also available for rental for special events.
I happened to be there for a trade show, but the general public can enjoy the Apollo Terrace and Apollo Courtyard on most Thursday nights throughout the year. That is when ( in a "nod" to Wernher von Braun, and the other German immigrants who were some of the pioneers of America's space program), there is a German Biergarten featuring authentic German beverages and cuisine. It is family friendly, and leashed dogs are welcome on the Apollo Terrace. There is no admission fee, but one pays for whatever food/beverage they choose.
The replica Saturn V rocket system, marking the location of the Space Center is so tall, that you will not be able to miss it, as you drive on the Interstate Highway going in front of it. In fact, it is a landmark that can be seen from many miles away. The vertical replica in this photo was constructed in 1999. I had to tilt my camera to get the whole thing in the viewfinder! There is an actual "working" Saturn V on horizontal display in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. The one on horizontal display was used for actual test missions of the Saturn V. From 1969 - 2007, it was on display outdoors, but has been moved indoors since the special building was constructed to house it.
One of the added features of the park is the option to take a "Moon Buggy" ride around the property. However, it was not in operation on the day I visited, which is just as well, since I was needing the exercise of walking the several acres that make up the visitor's experience.
They call this their "Rocket Garden", but they also have a "space garden", where they teach the Space Camp participants what they will need to know to grow their own food in space.
Seeing the sun God created, as it illuminated all these man-made rockets, reminded me of one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses, that says, "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36a). I am very thankful to be a part of God's Kingdom, and also thankful for all those who are are working to explore this world, and the outer space atmosphere around it! Both these facts give me "MILES OF SMILES"! Tricia