Taking on Space Camp at US Space and Rocket Center

It’s the T Minus countdown that trips us up multiple times. The landing part is smooth. The launch pretty much textbook. But then a mechanical failure threatens the entire mission and time gets jumbled. Over and over. I wonder if the astronauts at first have this much trouble. Something tells me they do not struggle with this simple task the way we do at space camp.


Why Am I At Huntsville’s Space Camp?

We, are a group of influencers, travel writers gathered, two days prior to the launch of TBEX travel Bloggers Exchange conference in Huntsville, Alabama. We are a strange crew from around the world. A Danish travel writer, a Brazilian Youtuber, several Americans and at least two Canadians. Some have been writing for a decade or longer and some just began last year. Today we are doing Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama running through a couple of simulated space missions as if in space.

Book It

Interested in doing this yourself? Viator has admission tickets to US Space and Rocket Centre. (affiliate link)


At the start of the day we are given a quick lecture of sorts and an introduction to Huntsville, Alabama Rocket City Space Camp. In the United States there are three central hubs of activity for space training. There’s the Space Cape of course in Florida, then Houston, Texas and finally Huntsville, Alabama.

On the City of Huntsville

Huntsville, Alabama is one of the smartest cities in the entire USA. It is a treasure, maybe a bit hidden to many, but well known to those in the south. But if you live in this world of STEM or STEAM, science, technology, engineering and math then you’ve probably heard of Space Camp and its many variations.

We are broken into groups. The scientists who will do experiments on our simulated mission. Mission control, with CAPCOM (communications) and Payload specialists and of course flight director. Then there are the people flying the shuttle itself. Four bloggers with various talents. An actor, and Snapchat celeb, a pilot, a new travel blogger and a veteran travel writer too.


I am traveling with a friend, and fellow lifestyle and travel blogger Margarita Ibbott. After endless flight delays caused by some construction at Pearson Airport in Toronto, our mission seems like it might never begin. We have to be there early May 2nd and it is late May 1st. Delays threaten to sideline us and we are both edgy. But this opportunity is too good to be true.

We stick with the plan and hope for the best and in the end fate has a hand in getting us finally to the hotel where we are staying. This mission will occur after all. Very few slots were available for space camp Alabama so we’re stoked we are in space camp and we made it to base camp.


The Day Starts Early

We assemble at Werhner Von Braun Center and the various travel writers are divided into groups according to the tours signed up for. A quick drop off at the Botanical Center and we are on our way to Space Camp. Impossible to miss this from pretty much anywhere in Huntsville. Look for the gigantic rockets visible from any motel, hotel, or mall in Huntsville. Even late last night we spied it while we were driving down the highway in a taxi. Now here we are.

Division of Labour

A brief discussion of how each role in the flight simulator works ends up with me role playing CAP COM. Basically, the communications person. Margarita is flight director.

We receive a big manual of directions and a script. The mission begins on script and we communicate by headset with the team inside the shuttle. We also communicate with each other being sure to follow the directions. This is the first test. Can you think on your feet? Jana of Merlot Mommy is the one tossed into a zillion different scenarios when small things light up and go awry in areas of the shuttle. When the red light goes on then follow this procedure…and the trick is always finding your way back to where we are in the countdown process.

Command Center

A tour of the US Space and Rocket Center is a day in itself. If you do space camp or family space camp, or even day camp there will be many chances to explore. Camp also comes with lunch and meals at the cafeteria which has some pretty good food choices frankly. The beef was very tender and several salad options are healthy, as are the vegetables. There are several rides outside and numerous Instagram staging spots, or selfie-taking opportunities. But we are not here just for that.

The group of 13 travel bloggers and influencers tackling space camp in May in Huntsville, Alabama – photo taken by Space Camp staff

Space camp promises us a taste of the real camp experience so we are ready for whatever that entails. We are ready for a taste of astronaut school.


Huntsville, Alabama launched its place in space and aviation history in the 1950s. That was when a team of scientists led by Werhner Von Braun began transitioning the city into the high tech sector. The group of scientists led by Von Braun designed and tested the rockets here in Huntsville that eventually put man on the moon.


The museum here on site features retired NASA rocket scientists and engineers who will answer any of your questions when you visit. An amazing asset to this facility and the camp too. The museum features activities and exhibits too. It is home to the Saturn V.


Training on the MAT

Nearby in the same building where the Multi-Axis Trainer sits (MAT), there are several other training machines. Numerous groups of school children talk loudly with each other and occasionally cheer us on, while we each line up for our turns. Kids age 5 to 10 do day camps here all summer from May 29th through August 11th.

My Turn

I wait until last to strap into the MAT. This training tool spins in all 360 degrees, but allegedly, because it keeps your stomach in one fixed position it won’t make us sick. Which is good, because we are doing space camp and this final amazing training tool right after lunch, in serious Alabama heat.

Bloggers one by one spin dramatically in all directions and wobble off the MAT, some beaming broadly and one or two looking shocked. I am one of the latter, barely lasting under a minute. Not the only reason I didn’t opt for rocket scientist on my career path.

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center contains the Earth’s largest space museum. It is incredible to see. This is also the home to Saturn V. If you are simply making a day of it you might want to consider doing the Marshall Space Flight Center Bus Tour too. Note – you have to be a U.S. citizen in order to be allowed on that bus tour.

MORE ABOUT space camp below – > Click Play to Watch and Learn

The center is home to both the U.S. Space Camp and the almost equally popular Aviation Challenge. Top GUN wannabes from all over the world also come to the Aviation Challenge annually. Participants have come from Australia and Canada routinely to learn and be groomed for a career in the aviation industry.


To Book Space Camp or Aviation Challenge:

Day Camps, Corporate Camps, Space Camps and Family Camps are offered at the US Space and Rocket Center. You can also explore over 1500 artifacts from America’s achievement in space exploration.

Rocket Explorer Experience Day camps for kids ages 5 to 10:

  • start at $275 US for a week. Space, aviation and robotics are all options for parents booking kid’s day camps. Five or more weeks gets a discount at $225 each of the weeks. Day camps are extremely affordable. Please note these are 2017 rates.

Space Camp ages – grades 4 to 6 and up to age 19

  • The space camp experience itself is a bit more immersive and requires children to be in grade 4 to 6 minimum age. There is a big educational component for space camp.

Family Space Camp:

THIS ONE looks awesome to me – 3 days two nights or 4 days and 3 nights from about $1,247 for a family of 3. Add $399 for each additional person and of course you have to get there. Family campers stay on site in space camp quarters.

  • Launch on simulated missions to the International Space Station and beyond!
  • Train like an astronaut on the Multi-Axis Trainer!
  • Construct and launch your own model rocket!
  • Learn about the past, present and future of space exploration.
  • See stars and planets up close with our telescopes on astronomy night!

And in case you were thinking that’s not enough – well there’s also corporate space academy should your business or company be interested in doing a team building activity here.

Rocket City will wow you with its vibrant arts and culture scene, its restaurants featuring some of the south’s best cooking and its growing craft beer scene.

We were guests of TBEX and Huntsville Tourism. Many thanks to the US Space and Rocket Center and Space Camp for hosting us. My opinion is all my own and it is also truthful.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Laura

    This sounds like such a fun experience! I love how you’re thrown into it and have to work together. The family camp sounds like something my kids would love to do with us, what a great bonding experience too!

  • Olivia

    Wow! What an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience you had! My kids would go crazy for something like this. Honestly, so would I!

  • Alaina Bullock

    I hate that I missed this conference! I had my tickets and room, and had to cancel at the last minute. Luckily, I live in Birmingham, so a visit to the Space Center is not too long of a drive. I haven’t been since I was in elementary school though, so I bet a lot has changed. I had a blast when we went though, and it looks like you all did too! One particular thing I remember was getting to eat some space ice cream – yummy! I am definitely wanting to go again!

  • Ann Bacciaglia

    Huntsville, Alabama Rocket City Space Camp looks amazing. I always dreamed of going to a space camp when I was a kid. I have a huge fascination with space. The Botanical Centre would be another great place to check out.

  • lisa

    OMGoodness, I would love to make a trip here with my kids. So much history!!!! My children would be fascinated to go to a space camp, especially my oldest grandson. WOW, what a lifelong experience, so cool! Love your pictures

  • Jennifer Van Huss

    You need to take me on your next travel adventure! You always have so much fun!! This looks like a place I really want to visit! There is something about space and the way NASA creates its space program that is so appealing!! It looks like you had a fabulous time! I loved following along your experience live!

    • Paula

      Jennifer – any time – you would be a blast. LOL. I bet that would be a lot of fun for all of us together.

  • Kristi Dominguez

    Oh my goodness…this sounds fantastic! I think Family Space Camp sounds like a total dream. My kids are fascinated with all things STEM (we have a new STEM academy in our school district and all of the kiddos are abuzz about it). Your experience sounded like a blast. Both of my kids are at the perfect age for Space Camp. And gosh…Corporate Space Camp? I want to work for whatever company attends that!

  • Bites for Foodies

    What a fantastic experience! I love how this is adult-friendly, because for the most part, things like this are usually for kids! Th family sounds like it would be so much fun, for the kids AND mom and dad 😉

  • Sue Reddel

    I recognize several of those travel bloggers and influencers that tagged along on your Space Camp adventure. I’m sure it was a wonderful experience. Looks like it would be fun for just about any age but especially those interested in science and technology.

  • Tami

    I thought this would be for the little guy. I’m all excited that I get to enjoy space camp. A day exploring without the kiddos will be so much fun.

  • David Elliott

    It does look like such an amazing experience. I would have loved to have been in one of those multi axis machines. I have done it before and it’s a lot of fun. This experience reminds me of some of the science center stuff here in CA where we have one of the space shuttles out here. Was a lot of fun to visit.

  • Kiwi

    This brings back so many childhood memories. In my elementary school I think twice they made this a big school field day trip for me in the 4th and 6th grade!