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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!

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

As I sit here having finally caught my breath from a wonderful whirlwind Alumni Weekend, I can’t help but reflect on the past 6 months and where we’ve been as a new “alumni movement.” While looking over my shoulder at the runway behind us, it’s hard to resist looking skyward with child-like excitement on what the future may hold in store.

We’ve accomplished much since late February when the Space Camp Alumni Advancement Board was formed and shortly thereafter the launch of the Space Camp Alumni Association. Right out of the gate this alumni community made it’s presence felt with a wonderful outpouring of support for the IndieGogo crowd funding campaign in support of the new Shuttle Training Aircraft exhibit in Shuttle Park. Over $70,000 in 60 days! That’s truly amazing and my hat is off to the alumni community for banding together and playing a major role in that success – one that we’ll soon all enjoy as the STA makes the journey to Huntsville this Fall.

As a follow-up project, the AAB and broader alumni community stepped up to help in so many ways – from bringing kids to camp via scholarships, to the preparations for Alumni Weekend, to a significant summer endeavor – providing staffing support to the Center and Camp to facilitate a large presence at EAA AirVenture 2014 in Oshkosh, WI. Our goals have remained constant: to bring the alumni community together and to bring the Camp experience to more kids.

While on the ground for the week at AirVenture, the AAB connected with every decade of Camp alumni including current NASA aviators, alumni who serve as active duty members of the Air Force, families and individuals from our campuses around the globe and even graduates from the week before! Onsite volunteers from the Alumni Association, included alumni from Aviation Challenge, Space Camp and Space Academy and the Honeywell Teachers Academy. We welcomed guests from EAA Young Eagles, Boys and Girls Club of America, ESA, NASA, U.S. Air Force, and Women in Aviation, to relive or experience the multi-axis trainer. We even had one of the original teacher scholarship recipients visit us and tell her how meaningful the Christa McAuliffe Scholarship experience was for her, to this day, nearly a decade after her retirement from teaching.

In the weeks leading up to and through the week in Oshkosh, “Team F-16” rose up from the alumni community to work on a restoration project at Aviation Challenge. The efforts of a vast community that included members of the AAB, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, and the Space Camp Hall of Fame as well as students from Tuskegee University, and several employees and interns from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center prepared the F-16 for it’s dedication to the storied Tuskegee Airmen.

Which brings us to Alumni Weekend, which many of us were so fortunate to participate in this past weekend. This past weekend the Space Camp Hall of Fame inducted three new members to its ranks: Kaya Tuncer, founder of Space Camp Turkey, Michelle Ham, founder of Higher Orbits, and Samantha Cristoforetti, astronaut with the European Space Agency. The AAB recognized several members of the community for their efforts to-date and the silent auction that night opened the doors for more kids to attend Camp this year. Most significantly, however, we were all able to gather at Aviation Challenge with dignitaries from State of Alabama and the Armed Forces for the dedication of the F-16 Red Tail to the Tuskegee Airmen. Seven of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen attended the event in person this weekend and stood proudly, sharing their stories with the several hundred of us in attendance.

It’s been quite a first 6 months!

We’re learning as we go – and building out numerous initiatives and channels for all alumni to be involved and give back to the institution that we all hold so dear. I was touched and heartened this past weekend by the genuine passion and excitement expressed by so many in the alumni movement and the goals and outcomes we’ve envisioned for our future endeavors.

Thanks extend to you all for your support, interest, and commitment to making a difference for current and future generations at Space Camp. Together, this community of 650,000+ can do remarkable things. I anxiously await the next steps in this awesome journey we’ve undertaken together.


Ad astra per alas fideles,

John Ramsey


Space Camp Alumni Advancement Board




The United States Air Force’s F-16 was designed to push the edge and challenge conventional combat assumptions at a time when air-to-air missiles were meant to reign supreme. Aviation Challenge and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center is home to a 1978 model F-16. This year the Alumni community came together with the Space Center to restore this aircraft to a condition befitting its military service.

As we began to seek support for restoring the Aviation Challenge aircraft, the 187th Tactical Fighter Wing, based out of Dannelly Field in Montgomery, AL, reached out with the desire to assist the project, making a request to change the livery of the aircraft. Currently, the 187th Tactical Fighter Wing is home to the 100th Fighter Squadron – the Red Tails.

The 100th Fighter Squadron has been activated and retired a number of times throughout history. In 2007, the Alabama legislature requested of the Air National Guard Bureau that the 160th Fighter Squadron be re-designated as the 100th Fighter Squadron in honor of the famous Tuskegee Airmen’s Alabama heritage. It was agreed and executed in September of 2009. To celebrate the revival of the 100th, the squadron’s F-16s (C and D models) were painted with a bright red tail and white lettering and logos to echo the designs used on the WWII era P-51 Mustangs. This livery was used for only one year. Currently, the 100th uses a lower profile red stripe with the word “Alabama” in white letters at the top of the vertical stabilizer.

This Spring, we collaborated with the U.S. Air Force to receive special permission to refurbish and paint the F-16 at Aviation Challenge in the famed red colors of the Tuskegee Airmen.

PPG Industries came forward to support the project by providing the paint, namely the notorious bright red of which the Tuskegee Airmen are famed. Over the past two months, countless staff and volunteers from the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Space Camp Alumni Association, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and a member of the Space Camp Hall of Fame contributed their Saturday mornings to restore the aircraft, construct a new concrete pad, and relocate to a new home in front of the Aviation Challenge Bubble.

At present, the current Red Tail team is currently deployed and flying in Afghanistan – we have been fortunate to have a few of the active team participate in this project prior to that deployment.

The Red Tails are an endless source of inspiration for aviators around the world and that’s what we try to do every day at Space Camp and Aviation Challenge — inspire the next generation. We are doing it for the original Tuskegee Airmen, to honor their pivotal role in military aviation history and anchor the Red Tails story at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in their home base in the state of Alabama.

Join us, and five of the surviving original Tuskegee Airmen, for the dedication of the F-16 Red Tail commemorating Alabama’s Tuskegee Airmen at the Aviation Challenge Facility – U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama, on Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 10 a.m. Celebrate with us as we honor the Tuskegee Airmen, who served our nation as fighter pilots, instructors, suppliers and mechanics during World War II, and as inspiration for generations since.


Spit fire!


A few pictures of the progress before the full unveiling:





Welcome to EAA Airventure 2014! We’re here!

This year the Space Camp Alumni community joined forces with Space Camp, Aviation Challenge, Space Camp Robotics, and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to support a week-long experience at the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration: EAA Airventure.

Alumni have stopped in to visit us going all the way back to the first year of Space Camp to a few alumni from just last week!


Claire popped in this morning for a spin on the MAT and to show off her homemade hat from her time at Space Academy this year! We presented her with her official Space Camp Alumni patch to add to her design.



Lastly, we had the father of an alumni from the very first year Space Camp was hosted, this Auburn alumn burst with pride entering the Space Camp/Aviation Challenge/Robotics Camp space here in Oshkosh. Here, Alumni Board President John Ramsey presents him with his son’s official Alumni patch.

Chip Yarbrough and Art Nicotera, though unable to join us onsite in Wisconsin, celebrated with their alumni colleagues on @SpaceCampAlumni:

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Alumni Board President, John Ramsey, was also interviewed about his experiences at Space Camp and we look forward to sharing that interview with you all later in the week.

We’ve also been busy meeting up with our colleagues and alumni from Flying Magazine, NASA, ATK, and Boeing, and have no fear, we took pictures to share!

We’re here all week running the MAT, flight sims, and…we are working toward taking some dronies with Ram Jet! Be sure to follow our adventures and fun out here in Oshkosh at #OSH14.



What flight crew are you most interested in hearing from this week up in Oshkosh? Tweet us @SpaceCampAlumni.