If you weren’t crazy about space before, you will be after visiting the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. This complex has everything you could possibly want that deals with space, from the first airplane built in Alabama to the Saturn V rocket that put a man on the moon. The largest collection of rockets and space memorabilia anywhere is right here. Plus, there is a detailed history of the space program with amazing exhibits and don’t forget that this is the home of Space Camp.
Saturn V Rocket
If you are driving here, you won’t be able to miss it next to the highway. The 363-foot tall replica of the Saturn V rocket is next to the main museum building. The audio that plays makes you feel like you are at the launch of this rocket going to the moon. Don’t worry the engine firing noise isn’t real but, the special effects are nice. Plus, it looks great lit up at night.
Once you enter Davidson Center, you bypass the gift shop to head upstairs to the Saturn V Hall. You walk by a great quote by Wernher von Braun that says, “The rocket will free man from his remaining chains, the chains of gravity which still tie him to this planet. It will open to him the gates of heaven.” He was the individual that brought this fabulous place to fruition for the public.
The main room has neatly laid out the history of the race to the moon and its triumphs and misfortunes. But, the highlight is that you are walking under only one of three in the world, the Saturn V Rocket. This authentic rocket is a National Historic Landmark along with a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Displayed only 10 feet off the ground, so as you walk underneath the rocket, you marvel at the enormity of this beast. How did this thing ever get off the ground, let alone take us to the moon?
Davidson Center for Space Exploration
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is one of the main sponsors of TBEX North America 2017. And Saturn V Hall in the Davidson Center is the location of one of the evening TBEX parties. We were wined and dined right under the Saturn V rocket. We even had a wonderful jazz band play throughout the evening. Which was great to listen to while we wandered around the hall enjoying the displays.
The Apollo 16 Capsule with the recovery parachute attached is my favorite display. The Apollo 16 Lunar Module, a.k.a. Casper is launched into space by a Saturn V. This tiny capsule held three astronauts: John Young, Thomas “Ken” Mattingly, and Charles Duke. They made it home safely with an extra 208 pounds of Moon rock. But, looking at the bottom of Casper, you can imagine how frightening it must have been entering back into the atmosphere.
Part of the activities offered to us is a chance to go on the multi-axis trainer. I had to do it. You can’t come here and visit what feels like the Space Capital of the World and not partake in the fun. Only a slight headache after getting off the ride so, all in all, good times! Quite proud of myself for trying this.
There are rockets galore everywhere once you step outside of Davidson Center. 27 Rockets and missiles showcase the US Army’s engineering marvels and how they set the stage for the space program and NASA’s Marshall Space & Flight Center. Some of the rockets in the park are the Saturn I, Jupiter IRBM, Juno II, Mercury-Redstone, Redstone, and Jupiter-C. Alongside the rockets are fun rides that you can get to experience liftoff and weightlessness.
Having never been to Space Camp before, I was super excited for this tour. Mission Center Complex is where the majority of the Space Camp activities and training happen. I love the quote at the entrance, “Through these doors enter the world’s future astronauts, scientists, and engineers.” Kids were finishing up their assignments when we started the tour but, eventually, it cleared out.The activities and machines are all geared to train them for space. Interactive Simulators are available to try if you aren’t susceptible to motion sickness. They also have a climbing wall if you are so inclined to try.
International Space Station: Science on Orbit
You get to experience what it is like for astronauts to live and work on the International Space Station. First stop is the Payload Operations Center where scientists and engineers manage the experiments the astronauts are conducting on the station. Next is the replica of the ISS. There is an exhibit of what astronauts eat and you can see where they sleep. Also, you can see one of the workstations. Look at all the cables to make sure nothing floats away.
Space Camp attendees actually perform real tasks that astronauts would have to perform inside and outside the space station. The kids and adults (Yes there are adults at Space Camp) will gear up in space suits and perform a simulated mission. Interested to see more? Here is a link for a 360 deg view of Science on Orbit and more information on ISS: Science on Orbit.
What a great evening spent here! Does all of this make you want to visit Huntsville, Alabama and stop at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center? I hope so! If you are planning on visiting or have already been, I would love to hear about your visit!
Enjoy my rocket to the moon photo!The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the Official Visitor Center for the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (check out my earlier post on that tour).