• Brandi Perry

6 Things You MUST See at the U.S. Space and Rocket center

Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team of rocket scientists transformed Huntsville, Alabama, known in the 1950s as the “Watercress Capital of the World,” into a technology center that today is home to the second largest research park in the United States and to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and its world-class educational program, Space Camp. We had the amazing chance to visit this Smithsonian affiliate and here are our must-sees from this spectacular location.

1. Wernher von Braun’s Office

It is one of the first exhibits you will find when you entire into the gallery. He was the leading figure in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany and was a pioneer of rocket and space technology in the United States. It is truly fascinating to see his personal items still displayed in his office and it gives you a glimpse into the mind of a genius.

2. The Mercury Project Procedures Simulator

This simulator was designed to give the astronauts a feel for the Mercury Capsule during flight. Mercury astronauts used the simulator to learn more about flight control and emergency procedures. An engineer would give the astronauts problems to solve that might be encountered during flight.

3. The Moon Rock

This moon rock came back to Earth after a mission. A fascinating look at what the surface of the moon looks like

4. Apollo 16 Command Module

Casper, the Apollo 16 Command Module, flew to the moon and back. On April 16, 1972, a Saturn V rocketed Casper into space. Inside were astronauts John Young, Thomas Mattingly, and Charles Duke. The Command Module returned safely to Earth 11 days later with its crew and 208 pounds of moon rocks.

5. NASA’s Mobile Quarantine Facility

When Apollo ended, NASA deemed the Apollo 12 Mobile Quarantine Facility surplus. It was handed over to the CDC to transport scientists who had been exposed to dangerous diseases overseas. However, after that, it completely disappeared until 2007. That year, the US Space and Rocket Center received an email from Dr. Paul Johnson, with the Alabama Department of Conservation. He had discovered an old Airstream at a fish hatchery in Marion, Alabama. Being a space enthusiast, he suspected this just wasn’t an ordinary Airstream and he was right! The US Space Center did confirm it was the MQF from Apollo 12.

6. The Saturn V Rocket

This full-size prototype was used to test the rockets performance when vibrating under launch power. Even though this particular rocket was never launched, it was tested to make sure it could handle the 76 million pounds of force at launch.

7. The Manned Maneuvering Unit

Since the Gemini spacewalks, NASA has experimented with methods to move astronauts in space. This was a propulsion unit that was used on three shuttle missions to retrieve two faulty communication satellites. It allowed astronauts to work, unattached, from the spacecraft.

There are so many incredible exhibits at the US Space and Rocket Center and it is absolutely a trip for all ages. Whether you are a space enthusiast or don’t even though the first thing about space exploration, this is absolutely a bucket list stop everyone should make at least once in their life.

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