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Tag: Space Camp Alumni

The Old Faithful Joy of Discovery

Dorothy “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenberger is best known for her work as an American astronaut, becoming the very first Space Camp® alumna to fulfill this dream that so many campers have as they walk through the doors for the very first time. However, her love of exploration began far before she had her sights forever locked on the stars. 

When she was in college, Metcalf-Lindenberger joined her classmates on an expedition to Yellowstone National Park, where she spent five full weeks mapping where the last ice sheet had been, resulting in a depression of the valley glaciers. 

However, even in this time with her feet firmly planted on earth, her heart was always drifting towards the sky. 

“Of course, we would go up to Bear Tooth, around 10,000 feet above sea level, and watch satellites,” said Metcalf-Lindenberger on the Dare to Explore Podcast. “It was a really magical summer … the nearest phone was a payphone a mile away, so if you even wanted to make a call you had to walk a mile to do it. I really cherished that summer.”

In fact, she loved it so much that the following summer Metcalf-Lindenberger was back exploring the mountains, this time outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her mission? She was looking at 2.5 billion-year-old rocks, and discovering how tiny micro-continents were smashed onto the part of the main continent of North America. 

“Looking at how these rocks are deformed, three are different crystallizations, and you can see how these formations have been re-heated,” remembered Metcalf-Lindenberger. “I turned that into my senior thesis project, [and I received] honors in geology as I graduated that year.”

Not to be limited to scientific discoveries, Metcalf-Lindenberger also has delved into the world of artist-discovery for quite some time. For years, she has served as a lead singer of the all-astronaut rock band “Max Q,” a musical group that she shares with other space legends such as Daniel Burbank, Kevin Ford, Susan Helms and Greg Johnson.

Learn more about Metcalf-Lindenberger and other scientists, engineers, and professionals from the space and aeronautics field by subscribing to “Dare to Explore,” the official podcast of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation. “Dare to Explore” can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere else you listen.

Photo Credit: NASA

Space Camp’s 40th Anniversary celebrates the past and the future!

The crew of Inspiration4 participate in a panel discussion.


The US Space & Rocket Center celebrated Space Camp’s 40th Anniversary on Friday, June 17! It was a day filled with amazing guests, new Hall of Fame inductees, and a grand announcement about the future of the Rocket Center.

The day began with a special press conference in which Rocket Center CEO Dr. Kimberly Robinson welcomed the crew of SpaceX Inspiration4, the first all-civilian crew to go to space.

The Inspiration4 mission raised almost $250 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital during a fundraiser before their flight on September 15, 2021, aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule. The four-person crew had also made a visit to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center before their flight to meet with campers and talk about their mission.

Aviation Challenge graduate and Shift4 Founder/CEO Jared Isaacman led the Inspiration4 mission. Accompanying Isaacman at the morning presentation were his fellow crew members: mission specialist Chris Sembroski, senior analytics engineer for Lockheed Martin and a former Space Camp counselor; medical officer Hayley Arceneaux, a physician’s assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and mission pilot Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscience professor.

Following introductions, Dr. Robinson was honored to announce that Isaacman was making a $10 million donation to support Space Camp programs – the largest financial gift in our museum’s history!

The money will be used for a new Inspiration4 Skills Training Center. The planned concept will be a 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art hangar-style building featuring space and aviation simulators, an aquatic center, a netted drone space, classrooms, and a challenge course designed for the training of future astronauts, pilots, and engineers! A highlight of the new facility will be the display of an L-39 Black Diamond plane Isaacman is also donating to the Rocket Center.

“We have much to celebrate about our past, but today we are looking to our future for the next 40 years, and we can do that because of partners who invest in our vision and mission, and we have such a partner in Jared and his crew,” Dr. Robinson said.

The Inspiration4 crew also presented Space Camp with a signed flag bearing the mission emblem to be displayed in the new facility, noting that it was flown “past the International Space Station, past the Hubble Telescope, the farthest that humans have been in space for more than 20 years.”

“There are things here you will not find at school, you will not find at your local museum, your computer, your iPad, or your virtual reality headset will never be able to provide,” said Isaacman. “What you’re seeing here at Space camp is a lot of young minds that will someday go on these missions. The Inspiration4 Skills Center is one step along that journey. Space Camp might be located in Huntsville, Alabama, but it’s an asset for the entire nation.”

Friday evening, Space Camp held a Space Camp Hall of Fame Induction Service and Dinner program beneath the Saturn V rocket in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. Hundreds of past Space Camp attendees, Hall of Fame members, donors, and friends of the Rocket Center were in attendance.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 and 2022 Hall of Fame inductees were all honored at the event.

Dr. Sian Proctor is inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame.

The 2020 Space Camp Hall of Fame inductees included Brian Dudas, a first officer for Delta Air Lines and former Aviation Challenge counselor, and Space Camp alumni Mandy Vaughn, CEO and Founder of GXO Inc. Also inducted was Derek Hodgins, Strategy and Business Development, Lunar Exploration, for Lockheed Martin Space and Space Camp alumni. Peter Marquez, Head of Space Policy for Amazon Web Services and Space Camp alumni was the final inductee.

Peter Marquez is inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame.

The 2022 Hall of Fame inductees were the Inspiration4 crew members: Isaacman, Sembroski, Arceneaux, and Dr. Proctor.

Following the induction ceremony, TIME magazine Editor at Large and long-time friend of Space Camp Jeffrey Kluger led a panel discussion with the Inspiration4 crew. The crew members shared their thoughts on the Inspiration4 mission, the importance of Space Camp, and the future of space exploration.

After topping off the evening with 40th Anniversary cake, the incredible day came to an end with the promising future of Space Camp on the horizon!

Celebrating 40 Years of Space Camp Alumni

On June 13, 1982, Space Camp officially turned 40 years old! 40 years of memories and team building, 40 years of alumni!

This occasion was marked with a celebration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center on Friday June 17, 2022 recognizing the alumni that had passed through the doors and inducting the next class of Space Camp Hall of Fame members.

These new inductees represent a variety of industry and are all leaders in their chosen fields.  Learn more about the inductees in their Space Camp Hall of Fame videos, airing on the U.S. Space & Rocket Center YouTube Channel.

Watch more about the 40th Anniversary of Space Camp:

Each of the 2020 inductees, Mandy Vaughn, Brian Dudas, Peter Marquez, and Derek Hodgins were recognized after a long wait following their initial notification of being awarded the honor, due to two years of delay as a result of COVID conditions. The Space Camp Hall of Fame also inducted a special class for 2022 to mark the anniversary, the crew of Inspiration4. Jared Isaacman, an Aviation Challenge alumnus, Chris Sembroski, a former Space Camp Florida counselor, and friends of Space Camp, Hayley Arceneaux and Dr. Sian Proctor were inducted as a team.

It was a joyous occasion to celebrate 40 years of a truly unique program to inspire the next generation of STEM explorers.

Space Camp Alumni Flying High Among Esteemed Pilots: Jason Tabor Alumni Story

Space Camp Alumni Flying High Among Esteemed Pilots 


Our Space Camp alumni are reaching great heights in careers all around the world, and Space Camp program alumnus Jason Tabor is no exception. His time at Space Camp and Aviation Challenge helped guide his passion for flying. Helping to cement his passion for flying and interest in making it a career. 

Growing up in Lexington, South Carolina Jason found his love of aviation at an early age and was fascinated with flying. His grandfather, an aviator himself, would take him flying as a child. Their flights together would ignite Jason’s interest in being a pilot himself and having an avid interest in learning more about flying aircraft. 

Preparing for Flight 

Jason found his way to Space Camp in 1989 and arrived at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center facility again for Aviation Challenge in 1992. These experiences helped to cement his love of aviation and fuel a passion for flying. His time at Space Camp was the first time away from home on his own, and he was able to build a confidence in his experiences at camp, knowing that he was meant to be in aviation. 


As a part of the Aviation Challenge, Jason was able to take part in activities that introduced him to many aeronautical concepts, including the chance to fly a basic simulator and demonstrate basic aerobatic maneuvers. His team at Aviation Challenge also flew model aircraft and spent time learning what it took to become a pilot. Learning survival skills, including the zip line into the lake, were one of his favorite activities at Aviation Challenge.  


Jason would go on to get his pilot’s license to fly small aircraft a few short years after his time at Aviation Challenge 

Having the ‘Right Stuff’ to Fly 

Flying planes isn’t without its challenges though. One experience in his youth found him piloting a Cessna 152 at the age of 18 that had engine trouble and required an emergency landing. He was trained for this exact scenario during his pilot trainings, although it is something you hope never happens. Jason successfully brought the plane to a landing in the middle of an empty field just north of a state park. An experience he would look back on later in his career and recall as being a foundation that, “Aviation is very safe, and the risks are mitigated through extensive training and preparation.” 


This training and preparation would continue to serve him well throughout his career. A good bit of passion helped as well. “I couldn’t focus on anything other than aviation and always dreamed of being paid to do something I enjoyed.”, said Jason when he spoke of his career path. 

He went on to graduate from EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University with a degree in Aeronautical Science. Jason flew night flights for the Federal Reserve Bank before moving into commercial airline service. When Jason joined United Airlines he had the opportunity to fly the Airbus 320, Boeing 737/757/767, and 777 model aircraft. Jason is also a volunteer with the Airline Pilots Association Mentor program and United Airlines Aviate program, to direct other pilots on their own path in aviation and meeting their personal goals. This breadth of experience led to become a full-time instructor in Denver for United Airlines in the Boeing 737 model aircraft.  


Paying it Forward as a Pilot Mentor 

Jason found a calling in mentoring and training other pilots. “The best part about being a mentor is seeing others succeed, and being able to witness that first hand.”  

And it also brought him back to his experiences at Space Camp and Aviation Challenge, that were at the beginning of it all. In his words, “Seeing others reach their goals not only makes them better, but makes me better simply by being in their presence.  My dad used to tell me to surround yourself with the best people, because they will continue to challenge you and bring you up.  I believe this was true when I attended Space Camp and Aviation Challenge and it is true in everything I do.  It is important to surround yourself with goal oriented successful individuals as they will be the ones that help bring your individual success to a new level. I am fortunate to work with the most amazing professionals that continue to challenge me and I continue to learn from others.” 

Jason is making a difference in aviation every day and helping new pilots set their course. We are honored to share this Space Camp alumni story, of a Space Camp alumnus achieving their goals and dreams through hard work and dedication to their craft.  

Space Camp Alumni Association Board Announces Annual Call for Applications to the 2021 Board

The Space Camp Alumni Association Board (SCAA Board) is pleased to announce that one (1) board member position will become open to fill an existing Board position vacated by a current member completing their term. We are reaching out to fellow alumni and former staff who may be interested in helping us to advance the alumni movement and support the mission of the Center.

SCAA Board Chair, Christopher Key, had this to say about the openings, “Everyone knows that 2020 has been a difficult year.  Similar to a single star in a dark night, good deeds and good news shine brightest in adversity.  This year more than any previous year, Space Camp alumni have shown our value by applying our passions and energy, fueling the Save Space Camp campaign, and showing what nearly 1 Million alumni can do.  The AAB members come from as varied of backgrounds as every camper any given week of camp, each coming together for a single purpose – former campers now professional adults looking to influence and give back in a meaningful way to ensure opportunity for the next generation.  I am fortunate to work with and continually amazed at the caliber of the AAB members.  The number of and quality of applicants we receive validates so many aspects of the alumni as a whole.  I am thankful for all who want to work with us as we continue this journey in connecting alumni and building the association.

We greatly appreciate the service of our outgoing Board member.  Our alumni continue to amaze and inspire me with their passion and commitment to the Space Camp programs.  It has been an honor to work with this board and the members that embody the spirit and values of what Space Camp is all about.”

The open spot is a regular voting member, with a three (3) year term beginning January 1, 2021. To be eligible, a regular member must be a graduate of Space Camp, Aviation Challenge Camp, Space Camp Robotics, Space Camp Cyber Security, or an affiliate program, or be a former U.S. Space & Rocket Center staff member or current volunteer. You must also commit to attending an annual in-person board meeting at the USSRC held in combination with the annual Rocket City Summer Fest.

The SCAA Board seeks a diverse and inclusive membership, and you are not required to live in or near Huntsville, Alabama, the home of the Center.

The SCAA is a volunteer group, and is a working board. This means 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 are also working on these efforts. The board meets every other month via Zoom, and once a year in-person, conditions permitting, during the Rocket City Summer Fest held annually at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. Next year’s event will be held subject to group gatherings being permissible, date to be determined in July 2021.

If you are interested, please send 1) a letter of interest, and 2) a CV/résumé to us at: [email protected]. 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 SCAA.

Applications will be accepted from Sept 18, 2020 through October 2, 2020. Finalists will be notified by email by Oct 30, 2020, and will be asked to partake in an interview process. At the conclusion of a telephone or Zoom interview process, Board candidates will be approved by December 15, 2020. The three year term will start on January 1, 2021.

You’re Invited: Space Camp Alumni Virtual Fest 2020

You’re Invited!

We are just days away from Space Camp Alumni Virtual Fest!

August 14, 2020
5pm Central / 6pm Eastern

View LIVE on Facebook:

Join us LIVE on Space Camp Alumni Facebook for:
– Live Town Hall
– Live Space Bowl Trivia
– Live Astronaut Talk

Plus… special alumni impact stories, guest appearances, and a sneak peek of the NEW Alumni Virtual Mission experience!! ✨ Special features throughout the day and join us for a Live Town Hall at 5pm Central/6pm Eastern!

All donations go to the #SaveSpaceCamp fund!

Get the exclusive Alumni Virtual Fest patch!
With a donation to the Save Space Camp fund of $150 or above, the Space Camp Alumni Association will mail you this exclusive event patch! While supplies lasts.
Exclusive patch designed by Space Camp Alumna Ana I. from Mexico City, Mexico!
Donate $150 or up to
and put “Alumni Virtual Fest” in your comment! 
Already donated $150 or up to the campaign?
You are still eligible! Fill out this form, and you will also receive a patch with your verified donation while supplies last.
PATCH Request Form: of your donation proceeds go to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation “Save Space Camp” fund! Patches were donated by the Space Camp Alumni Association so that Save Space Camp receives the full donation proceeds.

THANK YOU for supporting Save Space Camp!

Thanks to our community of supporters, we were able to meet our minimum goal to raise – to keep the U.S. Space & Rocket Center open!

All proceeds from the Alumni Virtual Fest will go towards the Save Space Camp fund!

NASA Rover Named by Space Camp Alumnus from Virginia

The new name for the Mars 2020 Rover was announced on Thursday March 5, 2020 and the winning name was “Perseverance”. The winning rover name was submitted by Alexander Mather, a seventh grader from Virginia. Mather is also a Space Camp Alumnus, and credits his time at Space Camp for increasing his love of space and space science. Prior to attending camp, he had an interest in video games and technology, but Space Camp opened his interests to NASA and space science.

The name Perseverance came to him, because in other rover names we had covered the spirit of exploration with Spirit and Sojourner, but had thus far missed one essential ingredient of exploration – Perseverance.

Great job to this inspiring alumnus on picking a name for the new generation of exploration! We look forward to hearing about all of the discoveries that Perseverance finds on Mars, starting in 2021.

Find out more about Perseverance and Alexander Mather in the official NASA press release:

And more about the missions of Perseverance here:

Stay tuned for incredible images to come from the surface of Mars when Perseverance has its anticipated landing in February 2021. Perseverance is the largest, most advanced rover that NASA has ever sent to another world, thus making this a giant leap forward in the name of exploration. Images from the surface of Mars will be relayed with only an approximate 15 minute delay, giving real-time data back to Earth and creating a new database about this extraterrestrial world.

Teams at NASA’s JPL, or Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in California will over see the new rover, including many Space Camp Alumni working on the team. We will be following this story and its advancements in the coming months! The information gathered from this mission will be a stepping stone to future exploration, perhaps even by humans, on Mars.

Simulations at Space Camp | Space Camp Alumni

This week it’s all about the simulators we tried out at Space Camp! Space Camp Alumni are sharing their favorite simulator on social media, and sharing pictures of their experience as well! Make sure you join our private Facebook group, to meet other Space Camp Alumni in your area and stay up to date on Space Camp Alumni Events!

Some of our favorite simulators are now housed in the Astrotrek building, an open ceiling building adjacent to Shuttle Park. In here you will find the Multi-Axis Trainer, the 1/6th Gravity Chair, and the 5DF Chair.

The Multi-Axis Trainer, or MAT as it is commonly referred to, simulates what it is like when an astronaut is in a tumble spin. It keeps your center of gravity in one place, while the rest of your body spins on multiple axises. While it looks like it could make for quite the stirred stomach, because your center of gravity remains in the same place, most trainees find that the MAT doesn’t have too many negative effects for them. In fact, it seems to be a crowd favorite when the Space Camp Alumni were polled on Facebook about their favorite simulator!

The 1/6th Gravity Chair or moon chair, simulates what it is like to be on the moon’s surface and only having 1/6th of the amount of gravity that is found on Earth. You can feel what it is like to hop, or skip, across the moon like surface.

Another simulator is the 5DF Chair, which simluates weightlessness and the five degrees of freedom you might find on an extravehicular excursion in space. Trainees may be asked to complete objectives while in the 5DF chair to discovery what it is like to not have a point of gravity holding you down while working on a project.

Simulations like these are an integral part of the Space Camp experience. What was your favorite simulation? Watch our YouTube video on simulators found at Space Camp to see more:

Join our private Facebook group for Space Camp Alumni, and make sure you’re signed up here on the website to receive email notifications, so that you know all of the latest events for Space Camp Alumni in your area!

Female Scientists Across the World Celebrate Women in Science Day

Tueday February 11th, 2020 was officially Women in Science Day, a day to commemorate the advancements of females in science, technology, engineering, math. The day not only acknowledges those that have paved the way for the current generation, but also salutes those that are currently making strides in scientific fields and serves as inspiration for the next generation of female scientists.

There were a number of Space Camp Alumna that celebrated Women in Science Day, in a variety of ways. Some took to Twitter to share inspiration – or even set straight some urban myths!

Beth Moses is the first female commerical astronaut and flies for Virgin Galatic. She made this post on Women in Science day encouraging women to “Go for it!”. Beth Moses is no stranger to paving the way for future scientists and astronauts, and helps to mentor others as the Chief Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galatic. She was inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame in 2019.

Astronaut Christina Koch is a NASA Astronaut that recently returned to Earth after almost a year aboard the International Space Station. She is a five-time alumna of Space Camp and received the distinguished award into the Space Camp Hall of Fame in 2019. She shared this photo on Twitter, expressing her joy in seeing the ocean… from a slightly different vantage point than she had seen it most recently.

NASA Scientist Sarah Noble even got in on the action on Women in Science Day, but helping to dispell an internet rumor that had started circulating the previous day. Sarah Noble and Astronaut Alvin Drew dispelled the “Broomstick Challenge” social media myth that had started circulated the evening before, stating that broomsticks would stand on end that day because of gravitational pull. (Spoiler alert, this can happen any day of the year because they have a low center of gravity.) Sarah helped to share the official word on this challege with Astronaut Drew that “It’s Physics.”. Ms. Noble is a Space Camp Hall of Fame awardee and was inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame in 2018.

All of these women and so many more have helped to shape the current landscape of women in science today. We encourage all Space Camp Alumni to follow their dreams and continue making advancements in science.

Welcome Home, Astronaut Christina Koch!

Astronaut Christina Koch has returned home to Earth after 328 days aboard the International Space Station. During her time on the Space Station, she set records as part of the first all women spacewalk team with Astronaut Jessica Meir, and also setting a record for single longest spaceflight by a woman in December 2019.

Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA

During her journey aboard the International Space Station, Koch completed 5,248 orbits of Earth, traveling over 139 million miles. She frequently shared pictures of her trip on her social media, showing images from above of cities at night, historical landmarks, and significant weather events. (Follow on Twitter: @Astro_Christina) Now home at Johnson Space Center in Houston, she will provide her team with valuable data about long duration spaceflight and be an integral part of the foundation to plan for the Artemis flights. Koch is a five-time alumna of Space Camp and 2018 recipient of the Space Camp Hall of Fame award.

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