A business traveller who travels for work at times get a breather. Those are the times when I get to know about the place, people, food, and nearby attractions.
This year my trip to the USAs based out of Atlanta. I traveler to places like Raleigh, Missouri, Huntsville for work. Some of them were short trips, few by air while a few of them were road trips. It’s always a pleasure to see new places and that is what keeps me stick to the travel.
Huntsville is at 4hrs drive from Atlanta. The drive to Huntsville is a beautiful road trip starting from Atlant via Tennessee (Chattanooga) and you reach Huntsville in Alabama. You go through the beautiful countryside and then pass through the beautiful mountainous Chattanooga and reach the mighty Huntsville. Initially, I thought it is just a small town, but the first day when we went out for dinner we saw a mighty rocket on the way to the dinner place. I was awestruck and my dream of seeing a rocket is becoming a reality here. That was Davidson Rocket and SpaceCenter. Without fail, I took a picture of the same, but next thing I did was google about this. Then I came to know about the importance of Huntsville. This is where the mighty Redstone Arsenal and Marshall space center is located.
Originally a chemical weapons manufacturing facility for World War II, in the immediate post-war era it became home to the German rocket scientists that were brought to the US as part of Operation Paperclip. The team first worked on ballistic missiles, starting with V-2 rocket derivatives before moving on to a series of ever larger designs. Many of their tests were carried out at White Sands Missile Range, flights between the two locations were common. In late 1956 the Army was relieved of most of its ballistic missiles in favor of similar weapons operated by the US Air Force. The German design team was then spun off to become part of the newly founded NASA. Redstone served as the primary site for space launch vehicle design into the 1960s. [Courtesy:Wikipedia.org]
Even though we are not allowed to visit the Marshall space center, I got a chance to visit Davidson Space & Rocket Center. You get to see a real rocket dissected and other stuff which enlightens about outer-space and journey to the moon and how they achieved. You get to see the Lunar Modules, Rover, Space lab, how they sleep, medicine and almost everything related to a space journey. This is the place every kid would love to see and many of us had dreamt about.
The ticket cost is 25$ for the visit without the movie in the Imax inside the space center. In case if you like to watch the movie, you can opt for a different ticket which comes at 40$. This place has a space camp for kids. The moment you enter this place you will be awestruck with all the innovations you have heard about and the gadgets and tools used in space. This is the main building which has a theater and these things. Then you go to the bigger building for some fun rides for kids and elders. Due to time constraint, I went straight to the next building to see the rocket, a real one which they made to travel to space.
While you walk to that building you pass several rockets, vehicles used by the army and also prototypes or real life models of the ones used in space. Then you enter the building where you get to see the mighty Saturn 5, one of the 3 authentic Saturn 5 rocket built. Outside the Saturn 5 hall is the Rocket Park which is called “the finest rocket collection in the world” by Mercury astronaut John Glenn. In the park, 27 missiles and rockets show how Army rocketry launched America’s space program and gave rise to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
There is a shuttle park where you get to see a complete chronology of launch vehicles in USA, including the world’s only fully-stacked Space Transportation System (STS) that includes two solid rocket boosters, genuine space shuttle main engine nozzles and a genuine external tank. This orbiter, a Pathfinder, is on display in Shuttle Park and is flanked by a T-38, a twin-engine supersonic jet used in astronaut training.
Other than these, there is a National Geographic Theatre & a Discovery Theatre where you get to see about space journeys and 3D movies about space travel on big screens.
I haven’t heard many people talk about this place, but whoever likes outer space journey’s, science and NASA should visit this place. Also, there is a bus which you can buy ticket from here and will take you to the Marshall space center. The bus tickets are available until 12 pm it seems.
Sometimes you get the best surprise at the least expected time and my Huntsville trip is the best example.
How to reach there?
There is an airport in Chattanooga which is 2 hrs drive from Huntsville or fly to Birmingham airport which is also at a similar distance.
Website – https://www.rocketcenter.com/museum