It’s official, summer 2016 was a resounding success for our beloved Space Camp, Aviation Challenge Camp, and Space Camp Robotics community. In mid-July, alumni from across the globe descended on the U.S. Space & Rocket Center for Space Camp Summerfest 2016.
Earlier in the year, we decided to modify the name of the event to more accurately describe its primary objectives – celebration, reconnection and Space Camp brand exposure. We realized that the event is not just for alumni wishing to reconnect but for all space enthusiasts wanting to celebrate the splendor of Space Camp. Going forward, the event will be known as Space Camp Summerfest.
Building on the prior year’s success, ticket sales more than doubled and the Space Camp Hall of Fame auction generated more than $10,000 for program scholarships! Big thanks again to Michelle Lucas and Vincent Vazzo for spearheading coordination of the auction efforts.
As with any great summer weekend at the USSRC, it started Thursday evening underneath the Saturn V at Biergarten in the Davidson Center. This particular Biergarten was extra special because our good friends at Yellowhammer Brewing created a special space-themed Tangerine Kolsch affectionately called, “T-Minus” specifically for Summerfest 2016.
Guests were also treated to a meet and greet with Space Camp alumna and founder of The Mars Generation, Astronaut Abby.
Later during the ‘Pass the Torch’ lecture series, Ed Buckbee, former Executive Director of U.S. Space & Rocket Center, lead a panel discussion on the newly published book, The Greatest Space Generation. On the panel were four of the contributors to this volume: Jay Foster, Jim Splawn, Heidi Collier and Dr. Deborah Barnhart. Buckbee, who led the communications team at Marshall Space Flight Center during the Apollo era, edited the compilation that covers the work of the scientists, engineers and others who sent American astronauts to the moon.
Friday brought about underwater astronaut training sessions and simulated shuttle missions with some special Space Camp Hall of Famer’s as mission trainers. In Mission Control, Space Station Payloads Communication Manger, Penny Pettigrew, Former Astronaut Trainer, Michelle Lucas, Former Air Force Missile Crew Commander for Minuteman III Ballistic Missile Weapon System, Lt. Col. William “Burke” Hare Ret., all helped train our guest controllers. On the orbiter, retired astronauts, Hall of Famer Capt. Robert “Hoot” Gibson and friend of Space Camp, Col. Robert Springer, helped train the flight crews. Based on the previous year’s feedback, the missions were heavily modified. Mission participants enjoyed one hour of dedicated training and a full one-hour mission. Feedback has been fantastic and we hope to continue to offer simulated missions again next year. Thanks to all who helped!
Friday afternoon, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of the film, “Space Camp,” we had a special screening followed by a panel discussion, led by Ed Buckbee, with those who made the film a reality. Larry B. Scott (a.k.a. Rudy Tyler), Harry Winer (director of the film), Patrick Bailey (producer of the film), and Scott Holcomb (a.k.a. Hideotakamini) were all in attendance and described what it was like making the movie.
Friday was capped off with a pool party and most awesome performance by the Molly Ringwald’s at the Marriott. Everyone enjoyed a “Rudy T’s Breeze” and celebrated all that was the 80s. Our very own Larry B. Scott helped make the evening extra special by jumping on stage and serenading us with some 80s Michael Jackson tunes. Big thanks to the Marriott for their continued support of Summerfest!
Saturday started off with our second annual Alumni Town Hall Brunch and awards ceremony. The alumni community owes a big thank you to our 2016 Town Hall Sponsor, Aerojet Rocketdyne. We had a great turn out and everyone enjoyed listening to future projects to reconnect the alumni community.
Dr. Barnhart shared and gave updates on several projects currently underway at the USSRC. Her mission continues to be “Keep the Center at the center,” and her vision for expansion and capital improvements demonstrate her commitment to do just that. Click image below to download.
Space Camp Alumni Association board member, Chris Key, presented Dan Gibson a custom model of our very own F-14A Tomcat for his efforts helping restore our aircraft displays at Aviation Challenge. Thank you again, Dan!
After the Town Hall Brunch, lucky weekend guests got to #TrainlikeAMartian in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer with Space Camp alumna and Mars Generation founder, Astronaut Abby.
Those who were not diving got the opportunity to enjoy some of our favorite IMAX® films from the 80s: “Hail Columbia” and “The Dream is Alive!”
After a late afternoon break, everyone made their way to the Davidson Center for the ninth annual Space Camp Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Auction. The audience was treated to a wonderful keynote address from none other than famed journalist, Miles O’Brien. A big thank you goes out to our 2016 Space Camp Hall of Fame sponsor, Orbital ATK!
The ceremony concluded with the induction of three accomplished Space Camp alumni representing the best and brightest from our community. Jason Hopkins, an aerospace engineer and business development specialist at Masten Space Systems and a former NASA Fellow; Dr. Amy Kaminsky, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Chief Scientist, NASA; and George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company all joined the ranks of being Space Camp Hall of Famers.
In honor of the 30th anniversary of its release, we also inducted the cast and crew of “Space Camp,” a movie that launched the dream of attending Space Camp for thousands of children. Larry B. Scott, who played Rudi Tyler in the movie, accepted the induction of the cast into the Space Camp Hall of Fame. Learn more about the 2016 class here!
To cap off the weekend, we all enjoyed a Totally 80s Concert in Shuttle Park with Eddie Money, Mickey Thomas from Starship, Yacht Rock Revue, and special guests Bill Champlin, formerly with Chicago, Robbie Dupree, and Jeff Carlisi, formerly with .38 Special.
The 2016 Space Camp Summerfest was a production of the Space Camp Alumni Association and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation. We sincerely appreciate all who worked so hard to make the event a success and to all our weekend guests. Planning is already underway for next year’s Summerfest, which will be held July 13-16, 2017. Schedule and tickets will be available in January 2017. Make your plans now to attend!