The US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama is where the city’s “Rocket City” nickname stems from. It opened in 1970 and its exhibitions focus on the Apollo programs as well as the rockets and military aircrafts that inspired NASA. It’s also home to Space Camp, the only place in the world where visitors can spend a week learning about the training and science behind becoming an astronaut. A number of Space Camp graduates have gone on to work for NASA.
The sprawling complex starts with the main exhibit area, which includes capsules from space missions, traveling exhibitions, and the IMAX theater. Here a regular rotation of films are screened including National Geographic documentaries and blockbuster hits. There’s also a memorial to one of the first monkeys in space and bus tours to Redstone Arsenal, headquarters to the Army Materiel Command and home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
Outside in the Shuttle and Rocket parks, you can get up close with decommissioned aircrafts. A number of space-themed rides have also been set up in the garden to help visitors experience zero gravity. A small cafe offers food and drinks for those in need of a snack.
In the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, the Saturn V rocket is the crowning gem, earning it National Historic Landmark status. Another unique element of the space center is their biergarten, inspired by the many German immigrants that moved to Huntsville to work on the space program, which has authentic beer and cuisine. Most notable of these NASA employees is Wernher Von Braun, for whom buildings are named for downtown.
If You Go
Space and Rocket Center is located at One Tranquility Base, Huntsville, Alabama 35805. It’s open daily from 9 am to 5 pm except for major holidays. Parking is included with entry. 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. Tickets are $24 for adults and $16 for children. Additional ticket options include IMAX films and the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center bus tour. You must be a US citizen to tour the flight center. Give yourself at least three hours to experience the US Space & Rocket Center and extra if you’re doing the bus tour and a film.