The city of Huntsville has used the moniker “The Rocket City” for as long as I can remember. This little city in North Alabama has led the way in the United States space program since before the launch of Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958. That rocket the Jupiter “C” was developed at Redstone Arsenal. The team lead by Dr. Wherner Von Braun continued working at the Marshall Space Flight Center and put a man on the Moon in 1969. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is the home where all that history is housed.
Every time we are in Huntsville a trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center is a must do. Since I grew up in Huntsville it is always neat to go see what is new and has changed. In the last few years, they have hosted a Star Wars exhibit and added a robotics camp to the wildly successful Space Camp programs.
The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is home to one of only three
remaining Saturn V rockets in the world. The Center’s main exhibit area contains one of the largest collections of rockets and space memorabilia anywhere in the world and regularly features traveling exhibits from around the globe. Here you can see the entire history of space flight and rockets from the earliest days through the Space Launch System that will take mankind back to the moon and to Mars one day.
Space and Rocket Center History
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!
Space Camp, Aviation Challange, and Robotics Camp are, in my opinion, the premiere STEM Camps for children in the world. I may be biased in that because I graduated from the very first week of Space Camp in 1982. I have also sent my daughter to Space Camp in 2010 and my oldest son in 2014. Space Camp is such a great experience all three of us would go back in a heartbeat. In fact, my youngest son will go to Space Camp in a few years. At Space Camp, you learn all the basics of space flight as through the week and it culminates with a simulated mission where the campers man all the positions on the flight crew and in mission control.
Where to Stay
When you go to visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center you have as many options as you can imagine in any large U.S. City. Everything from cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps at Monte Sano State Park to the Marriott that is right at the Space Center. Of course, if you are traveling around the U.S. in an RV, you can stay at the RV park right at the Space Center.
Hours and Prices
Open 7 days a week, 9 am – 5 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve
Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day
General Admission to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center includes access to historic Shuttle Park, Rocket Park, and all indoor exhibit areas such as the main museum atrium and the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. With each ticket purchase, enjoy daily guided tours of the Saturn V Hall, featured traveling exhibitions, hands-on demonstrations, and presentations, museum simulators.
- Adults (13 and up) – $25
- Children (5 to 12) – $17
- Children 4 and under – FREE
There are also numerous discounts and combination tickets available.