Author: bchandler

The Alumni Advancement Board (AAB) has three seats opening for a term beginning January 2016. In order be eligible, a regular member must be a graduate of Space Camp, Aviation Challenge, the new robotics program, or an affiliate program, or be a former Space & Rocket Center staff member or current volunteer. We are reaching out to fellow alums and former staff who may be interested in helping us to advance the Alumni movement and support the mission of the Center.

The AAB is a volunteer group. The AAB is a working board, by which we mean that the members are    involved both in making decisions about a wide range of projects, outreach efforts, fundraising, and other activities, and in helping to carry out those plans (read more at An increasing number of other volunteer alumni also are working on these efforts. The Board meets most months by phone, and once or twice a year in person at USSRC.

If you are interested, please send a letter of interest as well as a CV/resume to us at: Included in the letter, please explain why you are interested, your eligibility, and how you think that your background, experience, and skills will enable you to work with other Board members and volunteers to advance the goals of the AAB. The AAB seeks a diverse and inclusive membership, and you are not required to live in or near Huntsville, the home of the Center.

We are looking for individuals who truly understand and are excited to advance the AAB mission! The application deadline is November 20th, 2015. We look forward to hearing from you!

The Fall Edition of the Alumni Newsletter is now available! Get a recap on this summer’s Alumni Festival, how you can help find the next class of Space Camp Crew Trainers, details on becoming a member of the Space Camp Alumni Advancement Board, and MORE!

If you haven’t already, please click ‘Sign Up’ in the top menu of this page to have future editions of the newsletter delivered directly to your inbox.

Click below to read this issue:


Summer 2015 is in the books! We hope that it was as wonderful for you personally as it was for Space Camp, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, and our Alumni organization.

In July we gathered many from the Alumni family for our inaugural Space Camp Alumni Festival, and we are happy to report it was a tremendous success!

This year’s Alumni Festival was a first in several respects: the first full weekend of activities designed exclusively for the reconnection and enjoyment of Space Camp and Aviation Challenge program Alumni, the first Alumni-oriented event to be financially self-sustaining, and the first Alumni event to be planned and executed…by Alumni!  While we were at it – we raised over $15,000 for Space Camp Scholarships during this, our inaugural year.

For three days we had an awe-inspiring gathering of insightful, passionate, and engaged Alumni.


We kicked off the 3- day event with Biergarten – affectionately known as ‘Stein and Dine’ where guests were able to enjoy German cuisine and beer under the Saturn V!  In conjunction with Biergarten, early arriving guests were treated to a special Alumni Weekend edition of the ‘Pass the Torch’ lecture series normally held at the USSRC throughout the year.  During that event we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope and the upcoming launch and deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope with several excellent speakers, including former Space Shuttle Astronaut Scott Altman, the Commander of the last two Hubble servicing missions.



We honored the legacy and impact of a 25 year-young Aviation Challenge Program and we reveled in the history and inspiration of our F-14 ‘Mighty Tomcat’ as we admired her shiny restored appearance and rededicated her for another tour of inspiring the next generations.  We were so happy to have former Naval Aviators and Space Shuttle Astronauts  Capt Robert ‘Hoot’ Gibson, USN(Ret) and Capt Scott ‘Scooter’ Altman, USN(Ret) join us to celebrate.  Guests then moved on to enjoy the ‘Hangout’ with several of the most popular activities / simulators at the Aviation Challenge compound.

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The Alumni family gathered to unwind at a Friday evening Pool Party under the stars, and then came together again for a Saturday morning Town Hall Breakfast to hear about where we are and where we’re going.



And while we were at it we recognized a few of our best and brightest Alumni, as well as a few key USSRC staff members, with some well deserved awards! Those awards included:


Dan Oates – CEO Leadership Award
John Ratnaswamy – Space Camp Spirit Award
Chris Key – Space Camp Pinnacle Award
Vincent Vazzo – Space Camp Foundations Award
Alyssa Carson – Outstanding Alumni Award
Abigail Harrison – Outstanding Alumni Award

USSRC Staff:

Sandra Kerby – Delta-V Award
Amber Williams – Delta-V Award
Trevor Daniels – Delta-V Award
Brenda Carr – Chairman’s Award

We could not have succeeded without each of their unique contributions. It was truly a favorite moment of the weekend – likely second only to what was to come that evening!

We were treated to a sneak peak of the USSRC’s newest exhibit ‘Science on Orbit’, and the future for the Mission Center Complex Training Center Floor with tour guides including current Space Camp Hall of Fame members supporting the International Space Station as well as former astronauts Capt. Robert ‘Hoot’ Gibson, Col. Bob Springer, Capt. Wendy Lawrence, and our own Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger – the first Space Camp Alumni to fly in space!









After the impressive VIP tour it was time to get down to business during ‘Choose Your Mission’ with simulated Shuttle launch and landing sequences in the familiar simulators, and the iconic Astronaut Simulators including the Multi-Axis Trainer, 1/6 Gravity Chair, and the Manned Maneuvering Unit.  Of course a training iteration wouldn’t be complete without a chance to dive in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer!  And yes – we had real astronauts as simulator coaches!


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Late Saturday afternoon we were treated to a special presentation by former Shuttle Astronaut Dr. Rhea Seddon and afforded the opportunity to get our own signed copy of her new book ‘Go For Orbit’ – and you’ll never guess who was first in line!! What a perfect transition into the exciting evening events.


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As part of the evening events we heard from Todd May, Program Manager for NASA’s Space Launch System – updating us on the status and road ahead for NASA’s Journey to Mars. Prior to his introduction we shared a special message to the NASA and contractor community from the Alumni Community – with a little help from Camp Trainees attending sessions that week. Take a look – We think you’ll agree with the sentiment expressed in the video:

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We inducted four new members into the Space Camp Hall of Fame – Sponsored by Orbital ATK. The Class of 2015 was an impressive array of Alumni – spanning manned and unmanned space exploration, engineering, and this year we adding the ‘A’ to STEAM with an Alumna from the arts. NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, NASA-Mars Curiosity Flight Director Bobak Ferdowsi, Honeywell Aerospace Senior Project Engineer Elizabeth Bierman, and Opera Soprano Susanna Phillips represent all we aspire to be as a community of dreamers and achievers. Learn more about this year’s inductees here!





We ended on a truly high note! The first ever concert held in Shuttle Park featuring The Yacht Rock Revue™  with guest Amy McCarley culminated a fabulous celebration of all Space Camp Alumni who are the promise for the future of these programs and of the next trainees to pass through its’ doors.






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The 2015 Space Camp Alumni Festival is just a preview of what’s yet to come for Alumni events and more broadly a great  ‘end to the beginning’ of the full impact the Alumni Association has yet to realize. There are exciting announcements on the horizon regarding 2016. Next year’s festival is an event you won’t want to miss – with a host of phenomenal surprises. You will also hear about a very special campaign we’ll be launching in conjunction with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation that will truly change the lives of many young people.  Watch for those announcements coming this fall.

Please enjoy the highlights video below from this year’s Festival and we’ve also included a second video covering the full Space Camp Hall of Fame ceremony.

Stay tuned to as well as our Facebook and Twitter channels for all the latest information and updates.

We look forward to seeing you around Camp and we hope you’ll consider getting involved with Alumni activities in some fashion in the near future.

On behalf of the entire Alumni Advancement Board as well as the staff and leadership of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, thanks to our sponsors for this year’s and event, and most of all we thank you for all your support and encouragement to date. You are the ‘fuel in our tanks’ and we can confidently now say that ‘we have cleared the tower’ under power from YOU! The thrust of 700,00 dreamers now has us on a fast ascent to the stars!

Ad Astra Per Alas Fideles!



The Summer Edition of our quarterly Space Camp Alumni Newsletter is now available! We hope you’ll take a moment to review some of the exciting things happening at Camp and in the Alumni community.

We’re only a few days away from the inaugural Space Camp Alumni Festival! Get all the latest updates, read about the Class of 2015 Space Camp Hall of Fame inductees, find out how you can bid on some of the exciting items being featured in this year’s Space Camp Hall of Fame Auction benfitting the Scholarship Fund, and much more!!!

If you haven’t already, please click ‘Sign Up’ in the top menu of this page to have future editions of the newsletter delivered directly to your inbox.

Click below to read this issue:



Do you live near or in New York City?

Come celebrate the induction into the Space Camp Hall of Fame for Susanna Phillips at The Juilliard School in New York City, Thursday, June 18 at 4 p.m.

Susanna is a Space Camp alumna and American opera singer who has sung leading lyric soprano roles at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera as well as internationally.

Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO & Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, will lead and preside over the induction ceremony at the Juilliard School, Susanna’s alma mater. Due to a performance, Susanna will not be able to attend the July 25 induction ceremony at the 2015 Alumni Festival weekend & induction ceremony in Huntsville, AL.  Video of her induction will be a part of the ceremony on July 25th.

All Space Camp alumni, Space Camp Hall of Fame members and space enthusiasts are invited to attend the ceremony. Please R.S.V.P to: with the subject line ‘NYC Event RSVP’. Please include the full names of all attendees in the email.

More details on the 2015 Alumni Festival weekend can be found here:

The Spring Edition of our quarterly Space Camp Alumni Newsletter is now available! We hope you’ll take a moment to review some of the exciting things happening at Camp and in the Alumni community.

This is an especially excting issue as we announce the details of the inaugural Space Camp Alumni Festival Weekend! Find out how to get your tickets for all of the events.

If you haven’t already, please click ‘Sign Up’ in the top menu of this page to have future editions of the newsletter delivered directly to your inbox.

Click below to read this issue:



The Space Camp Alumni Advancement Board will be participating in a pre-launch dinner Wednesday, December 3rd beginning at 6:00PM at El Leoncito in Titusville, FL (El Leoncito – 4280 S. Washington Ave (US#1); Titusville, FL 32780 )  This dinner is being hosted by a combination of Space Camp Alumni and NASA Social Alumni and with participation from not only these groups, but also the space enthusiast community at-large.

As a part of the evening’s events,  John Ramsey – AAB Chair, along with other members of the board will be presenting an update on Space Camp and the AAB’s plans for 2015 and beyond.

You won’t want to miss this evening with a great group of alumni and all-around space enthusiasts as we celebrate Human Spaceflight, Space Camp, STEM Education, and the first step in the ‘Next Giant Leap’.

We encourage you to wear your flight suits, jackets, hats, or any other camp memorabilia for the evening’s events – and come prepared to tell YOUR Space Camp story for our roving video cameras on how it inspired you and affected your life.

Please RSVP here by Thursday, November 20th if you plan to attend.

Look forward to seeing you there!


Space Camp and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center will be hosting live and online events leading up to- and during- NASA’s Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 Mission. As part of these activities the USSRC and Space Camp Alumni are seeking alumni stories and testimonials to be included in media opportunities including digital, web and social media. This also includes a possible opportunity for you to be part of a live television interview during the launch coverage event with Space Camp.

Please follow the link <> and complete the short questionnaire to submit YOUR Space Camp story for consideration.
Question? You can email us at:

This summer at Alumni Weekend, Katie Roller Schulz Ditchen, Chair of the Fundraising Committee, and I, Ben Chandler, your Vice-Chair of the Alumni Advancement Board, had the privilege of presenting four incredible alumni with awards to honor their commitment to alumni advancement during the Hall of Fame dinner. These particular alumni have devoted a substantial amount of time and resources to mobilizing the community and getting the word out about our movement. With this first night of recognition, we hope to have carved the path forward to continue recognizing the accomplishments, leadership, and contributions of our Alumni community.

The CEO Leadership Award was given to AAB Chair John Ramsey. John has been a constant driving force within the AAB over the last year. His commitment and work ethic are inspirational. Through John’s leadership the AAB has successfully raised $70,000 towards the movement of the Shuttle Training Aircraft, organized a significant alumni presence at EAA/Oshkosh 2014, and along with Chris Key, a fellow AAB board member, helped honor the Tuskegee Airman with our rededicated Red Tail F-16. BIG THANKS, JOHN!

The Space Camp Foundation Award was presented to Darlene Perry Smith. The Foundation Award is given too an alumni whose fundraising efforts have helped further the USSRC and its missions. Darlene, a past AAB Board member, has shown us what is possible when intelligence, creativity and opportunity are combined. Many, many thanks, Darlene!

The Space Camp Pinnacle Award went to alumni Brian Matney, whose innovation and creativity designed our new Alumni logo. Brian is truly an artist. We are very fortunate to have him engaged with Space Camp and donating his time to the Alumni community. His logo designing skills were, of course, fostered at Space Camp designing mission patches for his teams as a child. Truly impressive Brian!

It came as no shock that Whitney Zatzkin received the Space Camp Spirit Award for her contribution to outreach. Whitney and her husband Jake are the only reason we have launched As if that wasn’t enough, Whitney spent 7 days at Oshkosh, serving as the social media lead for the multiple accounts of USSRC and the newly launched accounts for AAB. She is without a doubt one of the most capable/hardworking people I have ever met.

Truly an evening with leaders! We sincerely hope these recognitions inspire the next year of activity and dedication to the Alumni community here at

Further, we hope it inspires your commitment to join us in 2015 at Alumni Weekend! See you there!


Ben Chandler

Vice-Chair of the Board

Space Camp Alumni Advancement Board