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Rocket City Summer Fest 2019 + Apollo 50 Celebration = Out-of-This-World Homecoming for Space Camp Alums!

July 12-20, 2019, marked a special week of celebration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Coupled with the annual Rocket City Summer Fest and Space Camp Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, were a week full of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon launch and landing. The Rocket City Summer Fest has evolved into an annual homecoming for Space Camp alumni.

The week was packed with alumni centric events. The Town Hall meeting, co-hosted by Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, and Dr. Andrea Hanson, Chair of the Space Camp Alumni Association Board (AAB), is an opportunity for alumni to meet up and hear about master planning activities at the USSRC, highlights of notable alumni activity throughout the year, and take part in an awards ceremony to recognize staff and alumni who have played a stellar role in supporting alumni activity.

Special recognition was received by Amber Williams, Director of Merchandise, who sits on the AAB as a USSRC representative, and has been a steadfast supporter of the alumni community. Amber received the Chairman’s Award for outstanding support aiding in the advancement of the board mission and goals. THANK YOU, Amber, for all you do for the ABB, Hall of Fame and alumni community!

Amber Williams, USSRC

Space Camp Alumni Association Board Chair Dr. Andrea Hanson and Co-Chair Chris Key present Amber Williams with the Chairman’s Award at the Town Hall meeting.

Four new memberS were inducted to the Space Camp Hall of Fame during the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday night. Mary “Wally” Funk, a member of the Mercury 13 and the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board; Casey Harris, keyboardist for the rock band, X Ambassadors; Christina H. Koch, a NASA Astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station; and Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor and Commercial Astronaut for Virgin Galactic. Visit to learn more out these outstanding individuals!

Hall of Fame 2019

2019 Space Camp Hall of Fame inductees with returning HoF members attending the 2019 Rocket City Summer Fest events.

There were many great lectures presented throughout the week. A notable Pass the Torch Lecture included Al Worden, Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot, and Francis French, Hall of Fame Member. The two co-authored “Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut’s Journey to the Moon,” and provided special commentary on the Al Worden’s extraordinary journey around the moon.

Pass the Torch

Al Worden and Francis French provide special commentary on Al Worden’s journey around the moon as Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot.

Yellowhammer Brewing and Campus 805 hosted an alumni event the evening of July 15, with Space Trivia and a special-release Whiskey Label signing with former astronaut Bob Springer. Plus, a percentage of proceeds from every T-minus beer sold is generously donated to the Space Camp Scholarship fund. Yellowhammer’s General Manager, Ethan Couch, presented the USSRC and Alumni Association with a check for $20,000 to support the Space Camp Scholarship Fund! Thank you, Yellowhammer!

Yellowhammer Brewing General Manager, Ethan Couch presents a $20,000 check to the Space Camp Scholarship Fund!

Yellowhammer Brewing

To commemorate the launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969, the USSRC coordinated a Guinness Book of World Records Rocket Launch. On July 16, at 8:32 a.m., 50 years after the F1 engines of the Saturn V rocket were ignited, 5,000 model rockets were simultaneously launched while all of Space Camp, visiting Apollo astronauts, and thousands from the community watched this monumental event. Read the next article to hear more about alumni involvement in this event!

The Apollo 11 Homecoming Celebration Dinner was held Tuesday evening. Special guests included: Thomas Stafford (LTG, USAF, Ret), Apollo 10; Al Worden (Col, USAF, Ret.), Apollo 15; Dr. Ed Gibson, Skylab 4; Jack Lousma (Col, USMC, Ret.), Skylab 3, STS-3; Dr. Jan Davis, STS-47, STS-60 & STS-85; Bob Springer (Col, USMC, Ret.), STS-29 & STS-38; Dr. Margrit von Braun, Mrs. Iris von Braun-Robbins, Peter von Braun; The Honorable Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama; and NASA Marshall Space Flight Director Jody Singer. Many alumni were in attendance for this very special affair celebrating achievements of the past and looking forward to the mission of tomorrow…to return boots on the moon by 2024!

The annual Rocket City Summer Fest weekend is also an opportunity for the Space Camp Alumni Association Board to hold their annual face-to-face board meeting. The AAB, which is made up of 16 volunteer members, conducts business virtually throughout the year while hosting regional activities and events for and with alumni. While at the USSRC in July, the board had an opportunity to tour the facilities, learn about new programs and opportunities, and set new goals for the coming year. “It is a true privilege to work with this team of motivated professionals who are still passionate about the Space Camp programs years after their own experience here at camp,” says Dr. Hanson, Chair of the AAB. “I am so excited about how the board is calling the alumni community to action, and reconnecting hundreds of alumni back to the mission to prepare the future’s astronauts, scientists and engineers!”

Space Camp Alumni Association Board

The Space Camp Alumni Association Board meets up in Mission Control! Pictured, left to right are Ben Chandler, Suzanne Saltz, Beth Gencel, Sean Squire, Andrea Hanson, Rebecca Torzone, Chad Driver, Brooks Martin, and Michele O’Shaughnessy.

The week culminated on Saturday night with a celebratory concert featuring Black Jacket Symphony ‘Party of the Year’ and projection mapping on the Saturn V by UA-Huntsville!

Plans are already in the works for next year’s Rocket City Summer Fest Event!  The dates will be July 16-18, 2020.  This will be a homecoming event you won’t want to miss!  Mark your calendars, and we’ll see you next year!


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