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U.S. Space Camp is a camp and related programs owned and operated by the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission's U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.[1] The camp provides residential and educational programs for children and adults. These programs include space oriented camp programs, aircraft themed Aviation Challenge camps, and robotics themed programs, which are designed to promote science, engineering, aviation and technology. More than 750,000 campers have graduated since 1982.

United States Space Camp
Space Camp Hab and entry gate.jpg
The Space Camp Habitat, at left, houses for campers staying multiple days. Campers enter through the red gate.
SpaceCamp logo.png
United States Space Camp is located in the United States
United States Space Camp
United States Space Camp
LocationHuntsville, Alabama, U.S.
Coordinates34°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
Operated byU.S. Space & Rocket Center
Established1982 (1982)



Space Camp was founded in 1982 as an educational camp program for children using the United States space program as the basis to promote math and science to children. The idea for the camp came about as a result of a discussion between Wernher von Braun and Edward O. Buckbee. Von Braun 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, "You know, we have all these camps for youngsters in this country - band camps and cheerleader camps and football camps. Why don't we have a science camp?"[2]

Summer 2017 was the 35th anniversary of Space Camp and the related programs. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center added to the museum the Space Camp Hall of Fame, in which the first inductee was Wernher von Braun.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education FoundationEdit

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 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.

Space Camp FloridaEdit

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. About 50,000 children attended the camp during its run, but in its final year as few as 14 participants filled 276 slots.[3] 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.[4]

Space Camp CaliforniaEdit

Space Camp California, operated by the now defunct U.S. Space Camp Foundation was located at Mountain View, California and opened in 1996. Space Camp California closed its doors January 6, 2002, also due to financial difficulties.[5]

Space Camp Hall of FameEdit

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
Lucas, MichelleMichelle Lucas 2014
Phillips, SusannaSusanna Phillips 2015
Bierman, Elizabeth KellerElizabeth Keller Bierman 2015
Rubins, KateKate Rubins 2015
Ferdowsi, BobakBobak Ferdowsi 2015
Jason Hopkins 2016
Dr. Amy Kaminski 2016
George Whitesides 2016
Space Camp (1986)[9] 2016
Dr. Serena Auñón 2017
Dr. Michelle Christensen 2017
Major John Hecker 2017
Dr. Jennifer Heldmann 2017


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 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.[10]

Space Camp is a six day program offered for children between 9 and 11 years old. The curriculum is designed to balance education and entertainment. Children enrolling in Space Camp can choose from one of three "tracks" of activities and study: space, aviation and robotics. Space Camp was the first of the camp programs offered, and is used as the umbrella organization name.

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

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

Advanced Space Academy is designed for 15- to 18-year-olds. The program was originally known as Space Academy Level II and was started in Fall of 1987. In 1987 the Space Academy Level II program was college accredited (1 hour) through the University of Alabama Huntsville. It also offered programs for adults as the first class to go through Level II were adults. The Family Camp[11] program allows parents or guardians to attend Space Camp with their child aged 7–12 years. The program is run throughout the year, lasts three to four days, and includes activities in which the adult and child work together. Family Camp also has an Aviation Challenge option, designed for children and their accompanying adult, offered during the summer months.


Space Camp offers scholarships for kids with disabilities, academic greatness, excellence in leadership, and financial needs or disadvantaged.[12]


In cooperation with teachers of visually impaired students, Space Camp operates 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. Adapted materials, including handbooks translated in Braille, and equipment are used during the camp.

Deaf Space Camp[13]Edit

In cooperation with teachers, Space Camp operates a week-long program for Deaf and hard of hearing students by providing the same experience to hearing-impaired students as hearing students. Communication is supported by a dedicated team of American Sign Language interpreters as well as through visual and written media. To allow equal access to the audio of films, most museum & camp movies have open or closed captions; the theater provides a rear-window captioning system. To augment or replace microphone/headset technology, students use live stream video between mission control and the shuttle simulator.

In addition to participating in typical camp activities and simulations, students often have the opportunity to meet and interact with deaf adults who work in science-related fields and learn about the many contributions deaf individuals [14] such as Annie Jump Cannon (astronomer),[15][16] Tsiolkovsky (considered of a "father of Rocketry"),[16][17] and Dr. Thomas Wheeler (deaf NASA aerospace engineer)[18][19] have made to astronomy, space exploration and science education.

Other programsEdit

Other programs include corporate programs, programs for adults and educators and educational field-trip programs for school groups, and the X-Camp outdoor leadership camp. There were also special alumni sessions during the summer of the 25th anniversary.

Occasionally themed 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.[20]

U.S. Cyber Camp[21] announced in 2017, focuses on Cyber Security.

Aviation ChallengeEdit

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



There are simulators at Space Camp, such as:

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 is designed to allow the rider to better understand some aspect of space travel. The Space Shot simulates liftoff, and the G-Force Accelerator simulates the G-forces put on astronauts while re-entering the Earth's atmosphere or during launch.

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 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 the other half of the first floor. The bays are named after famous aircraft carriers. The camp has a cafeteria where campers receive meals.

Media and popular cultureEdit

Movies and TVEdit

Notable attendeesEdit

Notable guestsEdit

Camp Alumni Who Became Astronauts[35]Edit

  • Astronaut Attendees[31]
  • Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is the first Space Camp alumna to become a NASA astronaut. Metcalf-Lindenburger, a former classroom teacher, was selected as an Educator Astronaut in the 2004 astronaut class. Dottie attended Space Camp as a high school freshman in the spring of 1989.[36]
  • Robert, "Bob" Hines received his commission from Air Force Officer Training School in 1999. He completed Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. Upon completion of pilot training, he remained at Columbus as a T-37 instructor pilot. At the time of his astronaut selection in June, 2017, Hines was a Research Pilot for the Aircraft Operations Division of the Flight Operations Directorate at NASA's Johnson Space Center. He was also serving in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as the F-15E Program Test Director and Test Pilot the at the F-15 Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force, 84th Test & Evaluation Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
  • Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli was born in Germany, but considers Baldwin, N.Y., her hometown. She earned a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering with Information Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by a master's degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. She is also a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and has accumulated more than 1,600 hours of flight time and 150 combat missions. At the time of her astronaut candidate section, she was testing H-1 helicopters and serving as the quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 of the U.S. Marine Corps in Yuma, Arizona. Jasmin attended Advanced Space Academy in 1998 when she was 15 years old, and referenced her experience in a recent article in "The New Yorker".
  • Samantha Cristoforetti is a 1995 alumna of Space Camp in Huntsville, a captain in the Italian Air Force and currently an astronaut with the European Space Agency. Samantha graduated from the Italian Air Force Academy in Pozzuoli, Italy, in 2005, and from 2005 to 2006, she was based at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. After completing the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training, she became a fighter pilot and was assigned to the 132nd Squadron, 51st Bomber Wing, based in Istrana, Italy. From 2007 to 2008, she flew the MB-339 and served in the Plan and Operations Section for the 51st Bomber Wing in Istrana. In 2008, she joined the 101st Squadron, 32nd Bomber Wing, based at Foggia, Italy, where she completed operational conversion training for the AM-X ground attack fighter. Samantha has logged more than 500 hours flying six types of military aircraft: SF-260, T-37, T-38, MB-339A, MB-339CD and AM-X. Samantha was selected as a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut in May 2009, and completed basic astronaut training in November 2010. In July 2012, she was assigned to an Italian Space Agency ASI mission aboard the International Space Station - Expedition 42/43, which launched on a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in December 2014. This was the second long-duration ASI mission and the eighth long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut. In her 2016 mission, Samantha set the record for the longest single space flight by a woman and the longest uninterrupted spaceflight of a European astronaut. When not in training in the USA, Russia, Canada or Japan, Samantha is based at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.
  • Dr. Kate Rubins became the third Space Camp alumna to fly in space when she launched to the International Space Station in July 2016. Kate dreamed of becoming an astronaut as a child and did chores around the house to earn her trip to Space Camp in seventh grade. She left camp knowing she needed to take as many math and science courses as she could, and that focus paved the way to her study of viral diseases and, ultimately, the NASA astronaut corps. Kate received a bachelor's degree in molecular biology and a Ph.D. in cancer biology. Selected by "Popular Science" magazine as one of its "Brilliant 10" in 2009, Kate was a Fellow and Principal Investigator at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before becoming a member of the 20th NASA astronaut class. On July 7, 2016, Kate launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station aboard the first test flight of the new Soyuz MS spacecraft. Together the international crew of Expeditions 48 and 49 conducted or participated in more than 275 different scientific experiments, including research in molecular and cellular biology, human physiology, fluid and combustion physics, Earth and space science and technology development. Kate was the first person to sequence DNA in space, eventually sequencing more than 2 billion base pairs of DNA during a series of experiments to analyze sequencing in microgravity. She also grew heart cells (cardiomyocytes) in cell culture, and performed quantitative, real-time PCR and microbiome experiments in orbit. Kate conducted two spacewalks totaling 12 hours, 46 minutes. During her first spacewalk, Kate and astronaut Jeff Williams installed the first International Docking Adapter, a new docking port for U.S. commercial crew spacecraft. During the second, they performed maintenance of the station external thermal control system and installed high-definition cameras, enabling never-before seen images of the planet and space station. They also successfully captured the SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply spacecraft and then returned science experiment samples to earth.
  • Christina M. Hammock Koch was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2013. She completed astronaut candidate training in July 2015, and is currently assigned to the International Space Station Crew Operations Branch. In this position, she is involved in crew conferences and IT-related issues onboard the station. Koch, a native of Michigan, graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Physics and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering. Koch graduated from the NASA Academy program at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in 2001. She worked as an Electrical Engineer in the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics at GSFC from 2002 to 2004. Koch was selected in June 2013, as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class. Her Astronaut Candidate Training included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalks, robotics, physiological training, T‐38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training. She completed astronaut candidate training in July 2015, and is now qualified for future assignment.
  • Dr. Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor began working with NASA as a Flight Surgeon in 2006. In 2009, she was selected as a NASA astronaut. During her NASA career, Serena supported medical operations for International Space Station crew members. She also served as Deputy Crew Surgeon for STS-127 and spent 2 months in Antarctica from 2010 to 2011 searching for meteorites as part of the ANSMET expedition. Most of that time was spent living on the ice 200 nautical miles from the South Pole. In June 2012, Serena operated the Deep Worker submersible as part of the NEEMO 16 mission. She subsequently served as an Aquanaut aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 20 undersea exploration mission. Board certified in both Internal and Aerospace Medicine, Serena currently handles medical issues for both the Commercial Crew and International Space Station Operations branch. She graduated in November 2011, from Astronaut Candidate Training, which included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in space station systems, spacewalks, robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training. Currently, Serena spends most of her time handling medical issues for both the International Space Station Operations branch and Commercial Crew Branch. She is also certified as an International Space Station CAPCOM and served as the lead Capcom for the SpaceX-4 and SpaceX-8 cargo resupply missions.
  • Dr. Sandra Magnus was selected by NASA in April 1996, and reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. She completed two years of training and evaluation and became qualified for flight assignment as a Mission Specialist. In August 2000, she served as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for the International Space Station. In October 2002, she flew aboard STS-112, making her the first official Space Camp Astronaut to fly in space. In July 2005, Dr. Magnus was assigned to the station expedition corps and began training for a future station long-duration mission. She flew to the station with the crew of STS-126, launching on November 14 and arriving at the station on Nov. 16, 2008, where she joined Expedition 18. Following her station mission, Dr. Magnus served six months at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., working in the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. In July 2011, Dr. Magnus flew as a mission specialist on the crew of STS 135/ULF7, an ISS cargo delivery mission that carried the Multi Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), "Raffaello." She became Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office, in September 2012. Dr. Magnus left the agency in October 2012, after being appointed Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Dr. Magnus has a different story than the majority of our astronaut alumni. She did not attend camp as a child. She attended a weekend Adult Space Academy in 1991, while a student at Georgia Tech.
  • Aleksandr Serebrov was a Soviet Cosmonaut who attended Space Academy for Educators in 1999, more than four years after his retirement. He graduated from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1967, and was selected as a cosmonaut in 1978. He flew on Soyuz T-7, Soyuz T-8, Soyuz TM-8 and Soyuz TM-17. He was one the few cosmonauts to fly for both the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. Aleksandr died in 2013.
  • Aleksandr Lazutkin attended the Moscow Aviation Institute and received a mechanical engineering degree.He was selected as cosmonaut on March 3, 1992. His first spaceflight was Soyuz TM-25, on which he was the flight engineer. Lazutkin was aboard the Mir Space Station when a collision occurred with the unmanned Progress M34. The crew members were able ward off danger by using a tiny dinner knife to cut wires connecting parts of the station together. Mir was repaired a few days after the collision. Along with Aleksandr Serebrov, he also attended Space Academy for Educators in 1999.


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External linksEdit