Massive Layoffs at USSRC

Dark version of the USSRC Rocket LogoHaving been closed since March 14, the Space & Rocket Center has not had any visitors or the revenue they bring for over two months.

As a result, the Center is preparing to lay off more than one-third of its entire staff. Permanently. has the story

The only good news in the article is that the Space Center does expect to reopen soon, and Space Camp will continue in late June for a shorter summer with fewer in attendance.

This is a real shame.  Just when everything seemed to be going right for the Space Center, and their financial hardships seemed to finally be behind them.

Hopefully in time the Alabama state government will be able to provide some assistance to the state’s largest tourist attraction.

It’s just awful though.  Hopefully, those affected will be able to find other work quickly.  I’m sure it won’t be as impactful or meaningful though.

USSRC Closing for Three Weeks; Space Camp to Remain Open

In response to the growing COVID-19 situation, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center announced today that they will close to museum visitors beginning tomorrow, March 14, 2020. The Center will remain closed to the general public through Friday, April 3, 2020, with plans to reopen on April 4th.

Space Camp programs will remain unaffected.

As this is still late winter, Space Camp is far from their busy season, but it’s still nice to know that what few Space Camp campers are scheduled to attend won’t be turned away.

The announcement was posted on their website here.

Deborah Barnhart Leaving Space & Rocket Center

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s CEO, Dr. Deborah Barnhart, will be stepping down from her position at the end of 2019 to “pursue other opportunities.”

There was extensive media coverage from within Huntsville news media:

The announcement came today in a press release from The Space & Rocket Center:

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. –  The Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission today announces that Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, is stepping down. Dr. Barnhart has led the Rocket Center for the past nine years and her departure is effective Dec. 31, 2019.

“On behalf of the Alabama Space and Science Exhibit Commission, I want to say how grateful we are to Dr Barnhart for her strong leadership, creative vision, devoted service and unmatched legacy,” John Nerger, Chairman of ASSEC, said. “She has earned the respect and admiration of so many throughout the Tennessee Valley, the State of Alabama and across the country. Hers are difficult shoes to fill so we will work hard to identify and select a worthy successor.”

Nerger also noted Dr. Barnhart’s infectious enthusiasm and far-reaching vision in a tenure that has seen an 89 percent increase in gross revenue and record-breaking Space Camp attendance. She leaves the Center after the stellar success of the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 celebration, with attendance reaching more than a million visitors for the first time.

“It has been my honor and a pleasure to serve this institution and the State of Alabama,” Dr. Barnhart, said. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the center of our community and the icon of our mutual achievement. Our work has influenced millions around the world to new personal heights. There is no more satisfying legacy than the accomplishments of our Space Camp alumni, the national pride we inspire in our visitors as they learn about the amazing work underway by Team Redstone.”

In addition to her time as CEO and Executive Director, Dr. Barnhart previously served as Director of Space Camp from 1986 to 1990. She now plans to pursue other missions in Washington D.C., Denmark and the Gulf Coast and will retain a home in Huntsville.

Louie Ramirez, a long-time Center leader who has served as its Chief Financial Officer, will serve as interim CEO until Dr. Barnhart’s replacement is named. ASSEC has named Dr. Barnhart CEO Emeritus, and she will advise and support the recruitment and hiring of a new CEO, a process that is expected to take 60 to 90 days.

2019 Hall of Fame in the Record Books; Auction Ongoing

Hall of Fame Logo - 250px Wide

The 2019 Hall of Fame went off splendidly this past Saturday night, with three new inductees having been inducted in the Space Camp Hall of Fame!

Wally Funk, Casey Harris (of X Ambassadors fame), Virgin Galactic’s Beth Moses, and Astronaut Christina Koch were welcomed into the ranks of the Hall of Fame by many Hall of Fame alumni.

Every year, the Hall of Fame raises money through an auction. Some years some spectacular items are only in the room, some years there’s an online auction only, and others years both are done.

This year falls into the “everything is online” category. And the auctions are still open through Saturday, July 20!

You can head on over to the auction and register to bid on some very fine items, including a Meteorite Pendant that flew into space, and a brand new Omega Moon watch!

Space Camp Hall of Fame 2019 Group

VP Pence Visits the Space & Rocket Center

The Vice President of the United States visited the U.S. Space & Rocket Center today to chair the fifth meeting of the revived National Space Council

While at the Space Center, VPOTUS Pence took time to visit Space Camp facilities and speak to some Space Camp trainees.

Today was not the first visit to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center by a sitting Vice President.  Dan Quayle and George H.W. Bush both made visits to Space Camp during their tenures as Vice Presidents.

Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, et al, at Space Camp

Be certain to catch a special editon of The Late Late Show with James Corden this Sunday after the AFC Championship game!

Yesterday, the show’s facebook page posted this teaser photo:

Facebook post from the Late Late Show with James Corden

James Corden, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, and Chris Pratt were at Space Camp recently to film a piece for the show and, according to Sprocketeers, promote the new Lego movie due out in theaters February 8th.

Chris Pratt also tweeted out this same photo as well as posted it to instagram with the caption, “I fulfilled a lifelong dream by graduating space camp.  No big deal.  Goin’ to space. It’s whatever.”

Mars Generation Scholarships

The Mars Generation Logo

The Mars Generation Space Camp Scholarship Program is accepting applications through January 15, 2019.

Whereas the scholarships Space Camp provides cover tuition only, The Mars Generation generously awards Space Camp tuition, travel expenses, and provides a little spending money for the receipants, to boot!

See for all of the details!