Destination Alabama: US Space and Rocket Center

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The U.S. Space and Rocket Center, a destination that welcomes visitors from all over the country and the world, and it’s in Huntsville, Alabama.

Here, you can learn about the history of human space flight and the people and resources that made it possible.

“This is where the team of American and German engineers worked together as a team putting past differences and came together to create one of the most amazing accomplishments in human history,” said Pat Ammons, Director of Communications for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Huntsville is known for it’s long-time contributions to space flight.

“It’s only logical that Huntsville Alabama would have a Saturn five rocket because this is where it was developed,” said Ammons.

Driving through the rocket city, the Saturn V is a prominent and iconic sight, but the one you see standing tall at the rocket center is a replica. The real one is inside the Davidson Center.

“We have on display here the national historic Saturn V rocket, there’s only 3 Saturn V’s in existence.”

As you walk under and around it, NASA Emeritus Docents are there to help give you context for what you’re seeing and reading and add some personal experience from their time working at NASA.

“It is on loan to us from the Smithsonian institute, infarct, it is the Smithsonian largest artifact,” said Ammons.

If you want to know what it’s like to be immersed in the cosmos, without actually going there, the Intuitive Planetarium does just that.

“The pictures, the imagery is just amazing, you literally are travelling through space while sitting in your seat.”

Right now, the full-dome theater is only open on Friday evenings due to COVID-19.

“You can take people and practically sit them down on the surface of mars so that they can see the terrain and what it looks like,” Ammons said.

The center has staff who program the shows that feature real and recent images taken in space.

“To sit there and watch the unfolding of not just our own universe but to realize that we are just one universe among many,” she said.

You cannot leave the Space and Rocket Center without honoring Monkeynaut baker.

“We are standing by the the memorial to miss baker, she was one of the first primates to fly in space. She flew in the late 1950’s to determine how mammals were going to respond to spaceflight before we send human beings,” said Ammons.

The first animal to complete a successful flight in the american space program — and it was on a huntsville built jupiter rocket.

“It was those early pioneers of space exploration taught us so much and gave us so much knowledge to help build a space porgram 265 days a year learning and doing science in space and a lot of that started with ms baker,” she said.

After retiring from space flight, Miss Baker spent the rest of her life at the Space and Rocket Center.

“Her memorial here is a great favorite of a lot of our visitors who know her history but also our space camp students because they learn about Miss Baker.”

People often pay tribute to Miss Baker by leaving bananas on her memorial.

As you leave the Space and Rocket Center with a brain full of knowledge about the men and women, and brave animals who helped develop human space flight; remember, it’s called the rocket city for a reason.


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