An “out of this world” day trip with my favorite budding astrophysicist.

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama is but a 3+ hour drive from the house, just perfect for a long day trip. We had planned for an overnight, but as it turned out there was no need.

Mile after mile of uninteresting driving along Interstate 75 South.

And whoo boy, northern Alabama wasn’t much to behold, either.



I’ll get all of the campy photos out of the way here.  The USSRC is a Smithsonian Affiliate (so our entrance was gratis as we have an affiliate annual pass; and Lunch at the Mars Grill was actually quite better-than-decent.

A temporary exhibit on the pop culture of the Space Craze was our first stop.

The exhibit included everything you might expect.

And for Anna Grace, the 2018 American Girl Doll of the Year. Luciana, who dreams of becoming an Astronaut. Well-secured in tissue and boxed storage are her American Girl dolls (and their many accessories); perhaps some day we’ll be adding the NASA suit to the collection.

I just know I had these ViewMaster slides at some point.

Among the Space Craze collection were these cosmic decanters.

A sweet little tribute to Miss Baker, one of the two squirrel monkeys launched into space and successfully returned.

Throughout the main exhibit Dr. Werner von Braun features prominently. The notebook he kept from the age of 15, detailing space plans, was something to behold.

Truly a town transformed.

From the main building we walked around the space campus to a second building, dedicated to the Saturn V, the launch rocket that took Apollo 11 to the moon and launched SkyLab, the first American Space Station.

Some perspective: this one engine of the Saturn V rocket weighs more than 9 tons (~8400kg); the rocket used five of these engines. Beyond impressive.

There was an interesting Quarantine Unit on display, too. When the Apollo program ended, NASA surplussed this Mobile Quarantine Facility Apollo 12 to the Centers for Disease Control sometime in the 1970s. And then it disappeared.  I know, that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in our nation’s public health leaders in me, either. 

Until 2007.

There was a command module and a return capsule that one could try on for size, too. I think NASA is going to need to adjust its equipment for a certain long-legged astronaut.

Rocket Science. Who knew it was so simple?