US Space & Rocket Center Tour; Old Co-Worker Reunion (Huntsville “Rocket City”, AL)

On Thursday morning we said our thanks and ‘see-ya-later’s’ to Tom & Johnna for letting us stay at their beautiful home on the lake and we headed north towards Huntsville, AL.

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After a scenic 90 mile drive we arrived in Huntsville, AL around mid-day.

A couple of the rockets on display at the Space Center are visible from a long distance while driving on the interstate.

We found the US Space & Rocket Center Campground (←link) with one of our online search tools for RV parks and campgrounds.  It’s located right next to the Space Center and Space Camp buildings.  I called ahead to confirm availability while we were enroute.


When we pulled in to the RV park we saw a ‘Campground Full’ sign in the office window, but luckily the host remembered my call and directed us to our spot after we paid $20 for the night.


Our nice shaded spot at the US Space and Rocket Center Campground in Huntsville, AL.

We quickly got set up in our 30 Amp full hook-up site and went directly over to the US Space & Rocket Center for a tour.  We wanted to make the most out of the rest of our day here.  This is a really cool place, check out the Wikipedia® link which tells us:

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama is a museum operated by the government of Alabama, showcasing rockets, achievements, and artifacts of the U.S. space program. Sometimes billed as “Earth’s largest space museum”, astronaut Owen Garriott described the place as, “a great way to learn about space in a town that has embraced the space program from the very beginning.”

Opened in 1970, just after the second manned mission to the lunar surface, the center not only showcases Apollo Program hardware but also houses interactive science exhibits, Space Shuttle and Army rocketry and aircraft. With more than 1,500 permanent rocketry and space exploration artifacts, as well as many rotating rocketry and space-related exhibits, the center occupies land carved out of Redstone Arsenal adjacent to Huntsville Botanical Garden at exit 15 on Interstate 565. The center also offers bus tours of nearby Marshall Space Flight Center.

The entrance fee to the Space & Rocket Center was $46 for the two of us.


We spent around 4 hours walking around the Space Center checking out the myriad of interactive displays and exhibits:




We toured the International Space Station as part of a guided tour.


We watched divers in the Neutral Buoyancy Training Tank.



We watched a cool movie at the Spacedome IMAX® Theater (additional $10 fee) and afterwards continued our tour.

Lunar Lander exhibit.
Saturn V exhibit.
The  Mobile Quarantine Facility built out of an Airstream® trailer.
Pathfinder – the world’s only full-stack space shuttle display.
Outside rocket exhibits.


When we finished touring most of the interior exhibits we headed outside to find out it had rained as you can see in most of the following pictures of the outside exhibits:










When we finished our cool tour of the Space Center we drove back to the adjacent campground just in time to meet up with a former co-worker and friend from my previous job with the Missile Defense Agency, in Colorado Springs.  Jeff drove over to see us after he got off work.

Jeff Woods visiting the Urban Escape Vehicle in Huntsville, AL.

I was in contact with Jeff on Facebook® and we coordinated to meet up while we were in Huntsville.  Jeff and I were co-workers during the ~7 years I spent with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).  Some of you may recall that I resigned my position and retired from MDA in May 2014 which is when we started full-timing in the Urban Escape Vehicle.  He recently changed jobs and moved here to Huntsville where the MDA  is headquartered.  It was great catching up on old times.  Thanks for stopping by Jeff!  Hope to see you again soon.

After we said our ‘see-ya-laters’ to Jeff; Stilla and I relaxed under the awning to enjoy the cooler evening weather.  It was actually pleasant outside after the brief rain showers in the afternoon.  Then we heard model rockets being shot off next to the campground.


The Space Center here has several programs for kids here; Space Camp, Space Academy, Aviation Challenge, and Robotics Camp.  The Space Camp kids were coming over by the bus load to shoot off their model rocket kits and we had a front row seat 🙂


Innumerable model rockets seem to find their final resting place in the trees surrounding the launch field and campground.


Space Camp counselors assisted each kid in placing their rockets on the permanently installed launch stands.


And then they were remotely launched.



While we were watching the rockets being launched, one of them had a mis-fire and landed directly behind the blast windows in the middle of the kids.  No one was hurt, but it sure created some excitement.


I hope you enjoyed the Space & Rocket Center pictures… it’s another “must-see” attraction if you’re ever in the area.

This morning (Friday) we will continue our trek towards Bowling Green, KY to visit our youngest daughter.  She’s expecting us to get there before evening.  It’s also our 33rd wedding anniversary.  Happy Anniversary Stilla!

Evening view of our spot at the Space Center RV park in Huntsville, AL.

Next post will be from Bowling Green, KY…