We rocketed til we dropped at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.
Thanks to their participation in the ASTC Passport Program, admission was free with our membership to our local children's museum (Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, AR). Our little space monkeys arrived when the doors opened at 9am and had to be dragged out at closing at 5pm. We were able to check a stroller out at the front desk (free, you just need to leave an ID), which helped our two year old hang in there and gave us a place to stuff our jackets and belongings. There is plenty to do indoors, but you don't want to miss the outdoor exhibits so be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. It was a fun-filled day of education and learning.
The featured exhibition during our visit was an interactive flight exhibition called Above and Beyond. I don't know how frequently they change the featured exhibitions, but our kids could have spent all day in here! You have to pass back through this area when you exit the park, so you may want to limit the time you spend there at the start and return at the end of the day. Everything in this exhibition was hands on and interactive. One of the highlights was a computer simulation where you design and race your own aircraft.
As you exit the featured exhibits, visitors over 50 pounds have the opportunity to climb Olympus Mons, the largest volcano on Mars and in the entire Solar System. You can also take a ride on the HyperShip, a motion-based simulator. We rode several times with different audiovisual presentations each time. One trip took us through a black hole in space and another had us racing through an obstacle course.
As you walk through the space center there are lots of interactive learning modules for the children to enjoy.
At the Science on Orbit exhibition you can explore a model of the International Space Station. Before entering, a guide gave a short presentation on some of the research and experiments that are presently going on at the ISS. The kids loved seeing how astronauts eat, exercise, sleep, work, and even go to the bathroom in space!
As you exit to the Rocket Park the kids are sure to spy the Kids Cosmos Outdoor Park. While older kids are riding the G-Force Simulator (our 7 and 8 year olds loved this ride) or Space Shot (none of our kids were tall enough to ride), little ones can burn off some energy and blast off on their own ride. Our son loved blasting off, but was terrified of the bouncing on the way down. At the first look of terror on his face the worker stopped the ride and asked him if he wanted to continue or get off (he chose to get off) and praised him for being so brave to try the ride. I was thoroughly impressed with all of the staff at the center.
Enjoy a stroll through Space Shuttle and Rocket Park. The size of the shuttle and rockets are thoroughly impressive as you stand beside them.
Kids can play (or cartwheel) on a Lunar crater and explore some military hardware before heading to Saturn V Hall.
We spent several hours exploring Saturn V Hall. The tour of this hall was excellent. With 6 kids we sometimes shy away from tours, but it was a great way to learn a lot of the history and information without taking time to read all the signs. The kids were glued and fascinated, and learned quite a bit of random facts. Did you know the lunar rover vehicle's wheels are made of woven piano wire?
After the tour we went back through the hall to explore more - including the Skylab Training Module and Apollo 16 Command Module. The Force was a neat attraction where you experience the power of the test firing of the five F-1 Saturn V engines, however smaller children might be frightened by the noise.
Our little monkeys were excited to learn that the first space monkeys were named Able and Miss Baker 🐒
As soon as we left the kids were asking when we could come back! Thank you US Space and Rocket Center for a fabulous field trip!!!
Visiting or staying in Huntsville, AL? Check out my post on Monte Sano State Park for more fun!