United States Space Camp

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United States Space Camp

SpaceCamp logo.png

Space Camp Hab and entry gate.jpg
The Space Camp Habitat, at left, houses campers staying multiple days. Campers begin their experience through the red gate.
United States Space Camp is located in USA
United States Space Camp
Location Huntsville, Alabama, U.S.
Coordinates 34°42′41″N 86°39′15″W / 34.71139°N 86.65417°W / 34.71139; -86.65417Coordinates: 34°42′41″N 86°39′15″W / 34.71139°N 86.65417°W / 34.71139; -86.65417
Opening date 1982 (1982)
Management U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Website http://www.spacecamp.com/

U.S. Space Camp is owned and operated by the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission d.b.a. U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "Space Camp" refers to both the actual encampment and a family of related camp programs offered year-round by the facility. The camp provides residential and day camp educational programs for children in various age groups and adults. These programs include space oriented camp programs, aircraft themed Aviation Challenge camps, and outdoor oriented X-Camp programs, with the intent to promote science, engineering, aviation and exploration.


Space Camp was founded in 1982 as an educational camp program for children using the United States space program as the basis to excite children in the areas of math and science. The idea for the camp came about as a result of a discussion between Dr. Wernher von Braun and Edward O. Buckbee. During public appearances, Buckbee has stated that the camp was the idea of Dr. von Braun who was touring the U.S. Space & Rocket Center with Buckbee in 1977 when he noticed children studying rockets and making notes. According to Buckbee, von Braun commented "We have band camp, football, cheerleading; why don't we have a science camp?"

U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation[edit]

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Space Camp (formerly U.S. Space Camp) in Huntsville are operated by the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission, which is a state agency whose members are appointed by the Governor of the State of Alabama.

The non-profit U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation is a separate entity and members of its board are not appointed by the governor. It is responsible for scholarship fund-raising and the licensing of camps outside the United States. There are a number of internationally licensed Space Camps, including Space Camp Turkey, Space Camp Canada (known as "Camp Spatial" in French), and Space Camp Belgium. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation is in the process to license additional camps in Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, India, and Malaysia.[1]

Space Camp Florida[edit]

Space Camp Florida opened in 1988 and shared facilities with the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, Florida both of which were operated by the now defunct U.S. Space Camp Foundation. The Space Camp facility closed in 2002 due to low attendance leading to financial difficulties. Some 50,000 children attended the camp during its run but in its final year as few as 14 participants filled 276 slots.[2] The Astronaut Hall of Fame was sold to Delaware North and currently remains open as added attraction to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with several simulators previously used by the camp now available to all visitors.[3]

Space Camp California[edit]

Space Camp California operated by the now defunct U.S. Space Camp Foundation was located at Mountain View, California and opened its doors in 1996. Space Camp California closed its doors January 6, 2002, also due to financial difficulties.[4]

Space Camp's 25th Anniversary[edit]

Summer 2007, marked the 25th Anniversary of Space Camp and the related programs. Space Camp used the 25th Anniversary to celebrate the history the space program, the camp and all of alumni who attended the camp. The summer of 2007 marked several milestones in the camp's history. In its first 25 years, its mission had been to excite young people to study math, science, and technology. The 500,000th camper, Samantha Rice, graduated June 15, 2007.[5] The U.S. Space & Rocket Center added to the museum the Space Camp Hall of Fame. The first inductee was Dr. Wernher von Braun.

Space Camp Hall of Fame[edit]

The Space Camp Hall of Fame began in 2007 during the 25th Anniversary celebrations. According to the website, the hall was "designed to honor graduates, former employees and supporters who have distinguished themselves in their respective careers or made considerable in-kind contributions in an effort to help further the goals of the Space Camp program."[6]

Inductee Class
von Braun, WernherDr. Wernher von Braun 2007
Buckbee, EdEd Buckbee 2007
von Tiesenhausen, GeorgDr. Georg von Tiesenhausen 2007
Oates, DanDan Oates 2007
Metcalf-Lindenburger, DorothyDorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger 2007
Rice, JamesDr. James Rice 2007
Stubblefield, AmandaAmanda Stubblefield 2007
Pettigrew, Penny J.Penny J. Pettigrew 2007
Holderer, OscarOscar Holderer[7] 2008
Maicki, MarlennMarlenn Maicki[7] 2008
Devries, LisaLisa Devries[7] 2008
Vazzo, VincentVincent Vazzo[7] 2008
Smith, PhilCaptain Phil Smith, US Air Force[7] 2008
Whitfield, JoshJosh Whitfield, US Army Ret.[7] 2008
Allan, JimJim Allan[8] 2009
Gleason, JerrySGM Jerry Gleason, US Army Ret.[8] 2009
Pearlman, RobertRobert Pearlman[8] 2009
French, FrancisFrancis French 2010
Hnyda, DavidMajor J. David Hnyda, US Army 2010
Jaques, DannyDanny R. Jaques 2010
Hanson, AndreaDr. Andrea M. Hanson 2010
Thaller, MichelleMichelle Thaller 2011
Meyers, ValerieDr. Valerie Meyers 2011
Hare, WilliamLt. Col. William Burke Hare III, USAF 2011
Abrams, StephanieStephanie Abrams 2012
Warren, LizDr. Liz Warren 2012
Van Cise, EdEd Van Cise 2012
Gibson, Robert L.Robert L. "Hoot" Gibson 2012
Tuncer, KayaKaya Tuncer 2014
Cristoforetti, SamanthaSamantha Cristoforetti 2014
Ham, MichelleMichelle Ham 2014


Program names are used to define the age or focus group for which the specific program targets, with Space Camp referring to both a camp program and the parent organization. The camp offers numerous programs for various ages and durations of visit. The majority of attendees visit during the summer, though spring and fall often see many school group visits, parent and child bonding camps, and adult or corporate programs.

Space Camp[edit]

The Space Shuttle Pathfinder based at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Space Camp is offered for children between 9 and 11 years old, and typically runs from three to six days. The curriculum is designed to balance an emphasis on education with a spirit of fun. Children enrolling in Space Camp have the option to choose from one of three tracks, each with its own unique activities and areas of study: space, aviation and robotics.

Space Camp was the first of the camp programs offered, which is why it is used as the umbrella organization name. From the small groups that attended in 1982 it has grown to more than 500,000 graduates in week long programs.

Space Academy[edit]

Space Academy is a program intended for ages 12–14, offered in six-day sessions.

Advanced Space Academy[edit]

Advanced Space Academy is designed for 15–18 year olds.

The program was originally known as Space Academy Level II and was started in Fall of 1987.

Parent/Child Space Camp[edit]

The Parent/Child Space Camp program allows parents or guardians the opportunity to attend Space Camp with their child aged 7–12 years. The program is three to four days and includes activities in which the adult and child work together. The Parent/Child Space Camp is offered year round.

Parent/Child also has an Aviation Challenge option. Pilot/Co-Pilot is designed for the young fighter pilots and their adult heroes. The Aviation Challenge family programs are offered during the summer months.


In cooperation with teachers of visually impaired students, Space Camp facilitates a week long Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students by providing the same experience to visually impaired students as sighted students. Adaptations are made to the computer systems campers use in activities and simulations to provide speech and large print output. Special materials, including handbooks translated in Braille, and equipment are used during the camp. It is a fully participatory program intended to immerse students in an environment not limited by sight. For many students, SCI-VIS may be their first opportunity to interact with others of similar abilities. Referencing what may be a common sentiment among attendees, a SCI-VIS slogan is "Just because I can't see the stars, doesn't mean I can't reach for them."

Other programs[edit]

Space Camp offers several other programs. These include corporate programs, programs for adults and educators and a variety of educational field-trip programs for school groups. There were also special alumni sessions during the summer of the 25th Anniversary. Space Camp also started a new camp called X-Camp, an outdoor leadership camp.

Occasionally theme based camps have been offered, usually in conjunction with museum exhibits. During the summer of 2010 a Jedi Experience camp was offered in connection with the museum traveling exhibit Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination.[9]

Aviation Challenge[edit]

Main article: Aviation Challenge

Aviation Challenge, or AC, is another umbrella branding for a set of aviation oriented camps at Space Camp. It consists of three main programs for children from ages 9–18. As an aviation oriented camp the fundamental teaching aid are computer based flight simulators, which are used in training attendees to fly, act, and think like United States Air Force, Navy or Marine fighter pilots.



There are simulators at Space Camp, such as:

  • The 1/6 Chair – Simulates walking on the Moon

Space Camp additionally uses rides or attractions that are on site at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center as instructional tools. While these are not true simulators, the use of these rides enables the rider to experience in a simulated fashion or better understand some aspect of space travel.

Spacedome IMAX Theater[edit]

The Spacedome IMAX Theater provides a venue for presenting some of the space and science oriented films produced through the IMAX camera/projection system. The theater is part of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center museum complex. As Space Camp is operated by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, it makes regular use of the theater.


Space Camp Habitat 1 facility

If a Space Camp program takes more than one day, "campers" stay at the space camp's Habitat 1 or Habitat 2. Habitat 1 is a large building designed to house young people. It is constantly manned by staff and has full CCTV. Male and female campers are usually assigned to separate floors.

Aviation Challenge trainees stay in Habitat 3 where they are required to maintain military standards to their bays and racks. There are two floors to Hab 3. Males live on half of the ground floor and all of the second floor. Female trainees stay on one hall of the Hab. The bays are named after legendary fliers and military aces.

The encampment has a cafeteria facility where "campers" receive meals with pre-provided daily meal vouchers and have the option to purchase additional food items.

Media and popular culture[edit]

Movies and TV[edit]

  • SpaceCamp, the movie, was released in 1986 and resulted in a large growth of registration and attendance.[citation needed]
  • A Smile as Big as the Moon, a TV movie released in 2012.[10]
  • In several Nickelodeon game shows during the 1990s, grand prize trips to U.S. Space Camp were often offered.
  • In the movie Stranger Than Fiction, the main character's friend, Dave, mentions that Space Camp would be on his bucket list, and states "You're never too old for Space Camp, dude." He also refers to the camp's location in Alabama. At the end of the film, he can be seen looking at Space Camp brochure about "Adult Programs" from the 2006 season.
  • Space Camp trips, including tuition for adult programs, have been offered as prizes on The Price is Right.
  • 19 Kids and Counting, Duggars In Space

Notable attendees and guests[edit]


  1. ^ Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission Finance Committee Handout detailing current contracts including international licensees
  2. ^ Sellers, Laurin (14 September 2002). "Titusville, Fla., Space Camp's Mission Is to Remain Open.". Orlando Sentinel. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ "SPACE CAMP WILL KEEP SIMULATORS, NEW OWNER SAYS". The Miami Herald. November 10, 2002. 
  4. ^ Kwan, Joshua L. (8 January 2002). "Space Camp California Closes for Lack of Funds". San Jose Mercury News. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ SPACE CAMP Newsletter official site
  6. ^ SPACE CAMP Hall of Fame official site
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Hall of Fame Inductees". al.com. July 20, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Clines, Keith (12 July 2009). "Space Camp adds 3 to its hall of fame". Huntsville Times. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  9. ^ "STAR WARS: Where Science Meets Imagination (Press Materials)". 28 May 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  10. ^ http://www.mlive.com/tv/index.ssf/2012/01/a_smile_as_big_as_the_moon_sta.html
  11. ^ http://www.air-space.com/SCChina.htm
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Who's Who of Space Camp
  13. ^ Kesner, Kenneth (2006-06-24). "Meeting 'Apollo 13'star 'like visiting old friend'". Huntsville Times. 
  14. ^ Welch, Chris (2009-04-13). "Space Camp has big role in 'Little' show tonight". Huntsville Times. 

External links[edit]