Groups visiting the center will learn how the past sparks the future
Opened in 1970, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is a leading educational experience that instills the wonder of space travel and research through its museum exhibits and Space Camp programs. The Rocket Center is the Official Visitor Center for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, where a team lead by Dr. Wernher von Braun developed the Saturn V rocket that took United States astronauts to the moon.
The Rocket Center houses the National Historic Landmark Saturn V Moon Rocket and other artifacts that pay tribute to the Apollo moon program as well as exhibits that show the present and future of space exploration. In the Saturn V Hall, visitors begin with the awe-inspiring view of the giant F1 engines that lifted the Saturn V off the ground. At the other end of the massive hall is the Apollo 16 command module, the Casper. Visitors marvel at the small interior as they contemplate the multi-day journey it took to get three astronauts to the moon and back. It’s a true testament to the courage of our space pioneers.
A favorite visitor experience is to talk with the NASA Emeritus Docents who frequent the Saturn V Hall and answer questions about the engineering it took to send humans to the moon and get them safely home. These volunteer guides share their own stories of being part of world-changing work on the Apollo, space shuttle, lunar rover and other programs.
The Rocket Center isn’t just a place devoted to the past. It’s also where you can learn about the Space Launch System, which is slated to take the next crew of American astronauts to the moon. The plan is to have the first woman and the next man step foot on the lunar surface by 2024. In the “Science on Orbit” exhibit, visitors can see where America is in space today, and learn how astronauts are living and working aboard the International Space Station.
In addition to its many exhibits, including ever-changing traveling exhibits, the Rocket Center is home to the INTUITIVE® Planetarium and its state-of-the-art 8K laser projection system. The cutting-edge system and full-dome allow visitors to see our universe and beyond with extraordinary clarity, and in-house programming provides unique viewing opportunities.
For the adventurous visitor, the Rocket Center offers Moon Shot, which simulates a rocket launch, and G Force to demonstrate what it feels to have 3 Gs pushing on your body. HyperShip provides a more sedate motion-based visual and sensory experience.
A bus tour of Marshall Space Flight Center is a great way to get a more in-depth look at Huntsville’s role in revolutionary space technology. The bus tour starts and ends at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and provides the history of Marshall Space Flight Center as well as how the work done there today is preparing us for the future. Currently, the bus tour is offered to only U.S. citizens.
If a day trip isn’t enough to satisfy your inner space geek, the Rocket Center is home to Space Camp. In addition to its weeklong programs for ages 9 to 18, a Family Space Camp program is available to families with children as young as 7 and adults can attend Adult Space Camp. Both the family and adult programs take place Friday through Saturday.
For more information about the Rocket Center’s exhibits and coming events, please visit rocketcenter.com. You’ll find a link there to Space Camp or visit spacecamp.com.