The US Space and Rocket Center,
a Smithsonian Affiliate, is located on the north side of the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Additionally, this site is the official visitor center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the birthplace of the Nation's space and rocket program. The the Space and Rocket center also hosts the well known Space Camp made popular by the 1986 movie of the same name.

The public site includes a museum with many rockets and space-related artifacts (largest collection anywhere), a space shuttle, and a wide variety of vintage military equipment on display inside and out. Additionally, there is a handful of space themed amusement park rides, various simulators, a rock wall, and a 3D/IMAX theater. Altogether, the US Space and Rocket Center has everything it takes to keep a family busy for the better part of a day.

The US Space and Rocket Center hosts quite a number of events, mostly aimed at attracting kids and young adults with interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). While we were visiting, there was a robotics presentation and play area sponsored by Lego.  Additionally, NASA sponsors an annual engineering challenge called the "Great Moonbuggy Race where students design, build, and race a human powered vehicle through an obstacle course. FUN!

As far as nearby attractions, it's a little too soon to tell for us. When we visited, we were actually camping quite a distance away at Desoto State Park near Fort Payne, Alabama. We will visit again sometime soon and check out the area.

Adventure Journal
Entry Date: March/April 2013
Spring was almost here, and we'd made plans for camping in Alabama and Tennessee over a period of 10-12 days. The weather is always questionable this time of year, so we made some back-up plans just in case it rained. The first leg of our journey had us at Desoto State Park near Fort Payne, Alabama, and the rain came on our third day there.

Back-up Plan One was the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. It was about an hour and a half away, but we knew from experience it would be well worth the drive. We arrived late morning and almost immediately went into the unusual domed theater watch a movie about the Hubble telescope. The images were incredible! My only advice here is to get as high-up in the seating as possible, and watch your step.

From there we entered the primary museum area. According to those that know such things, this museum has the finest collection of artifacts depicting the US's race to  space. There are literally thousands of unique items: engines, space suits, aircraft, space capsules, rockets, simulators, more than I could list here. This part of the museum is a little old and showing a little wear and tear, but still an awesome place.

From there, we wandered outside to look at some of the rockets and military equipment. Fortunately, the rain held-off for the most part, sprinkling just enough to keep it interesting. There are a few amusement park-like rides here, and the kids enjoyed them thoroughly. Their two favorite rides were a centrifugal force demonstration and a rocket launch simulator. They rode both multiple times since there was absolutely no line whatsoever. I'd like to point out that, when visiting this area, the rides may or may not be operating. You may have to ask. In our case, they gladly ran the rides for our kids.

Our next building was new for us. We'd been here a few years back, the the "Saturn V Hall" something like we'd never seen. The huge 68,000 square foot building houses one of only three real Saturn V rockets in the world. The exhibits are very interactive displaying capsules, a space station, a moon rock, and hundreds of other exciting goodies. Kids can climb into training capsules and flip switches like they're in the real deal. It was really a lot of fun for the kids (ahem...).

Back outside, we visited the space shuttle and took a picture of the kids similar to one we made on our last visit seven years ago. On the way back through the older building, the kids discovered a simulator that everyone rode and a rock wall that everyone climbed. Exhaustion, however, was setting in (and the kids were tired too). We certainly had a lot of fun, but had a difficult time exiting the gift shop. There were lots of things on sale, so we picked-up some shirts and such. What a great day! 

The Richardson Tribe

Here's a piece of mindless trivia for you. As educational curriculum developers, we have a relationship with K'Nex that dates back over 15 years. As a result, I developed an autonomous K'Nex Mars Rover kit that was featured in Robot Magazine's premier issue in 2003. Fun times!

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Watch for special events:


Rating (1-10)


Official Website


The official website is very colorful and inviting.

Facility 8 The US and Rocket Center is made-up of several buildings: some old and some new. Some of the exhibits need to be updated, but being a federally funded

 facility, their budgets are tight. Regardless, this is a great place to visit, albeit a little on the expensive side.

*Note: We rate only the amenities we have personally reviewed.
No financial consideration or favor has been received for listing in PB&J Adventures' website. We are in no way affiliated with this facility or any other facility we review. Any paid advertising seen on this site was arranged after the destination was reviewed. You can trust the reviews to be unbiased.

March 2013