'Save Space Camp:' U.S. Space & Rocket Center fighting to stay open

The center is asking people to donate to the Go Fund Me page it created.

Posted: Jul 28, 2020 7:47 PM
Updated: Jul 29, 2020 3:21 PM

The coronavirus pandemic is having a huge economic impact on Alabama's biggest tourist attraction. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is now at risk of closing down. The attraction will run out of money in October and is now in need of $1.5 million to stay operational.

"We are not just working to save a museum and kid attraction. We're working to save Huntsville's Statue of Liberty," Ben Chandler, Chairman of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation Board of Directors said.

Tuesday, officials with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center said closing the center would mean losing millions of dollars in tourism revenue.

"This is an incredibly important economic engine not just for the Huntsville, Madison community but for entire state. I think to the tune of $150 million worth of spending which obviously does a lot to support and strengthen our strong economy here," John Nerger, Chairman of the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission, said.

"People come to Space Camp and the parents stay at the local hotels and/or frequent the restaurants," Louis Ramirez, U.S. Space & Rocket Center CEO said.

About a year ago, the center said it was thriving as it celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission.

"It's actually stunning to us to see how quickly the tide can turn," said Nerger.

Christopher Key, A Space Camp alumnus Attendee and Counselor, said you can tell the difference from this time last year.

"It is more than night and day. The mood last summer both with the 50th anniversary plus the alumni festival weekend, it was a homecoming, it was a reunion," Key said.

Everyone said the museum and Space Camp are crucial to the growth we are seeing in the area.

The Space & Rocket Center says it usually generates about $120 million in annual revenue for the state. t's been the top paid tourist attraction for seven years straight. Huntsville and Madison County reached its highest tourism levels ever last year. More than 3.7 million visitors came to the area and brought in $1.6 billion to the local economy. The City of Huntsville says each household in the county saves $925 in taxes because of travel expenditures.

The center said it already laid off 90% of its employees because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have enough funds by bank loans to get us to October," Ramirez said.

Ramirez explained coronavirus forced the center to lose the majority of the revenue making it hard to keep the doors open.

Right now our line of credit is $3 million, which we have burned through $2.5 million. They've given us another lifeline of $1.25 million on top of that we've spent $2 million of our own money to get to this point," he said.

With NASA working to get man back on the moon, Nerger, said closing the museum and Space Camp will impact the support for NASA.

"Will it affect NASA in some way? Sadly, I think the answer is yes. While we don't belong to NASA, we provide, we educate the public and we educate the citizens who are needed to support NASA," he explained.

In the meantime, the center said it's hoping to receive some funding in the next CARES Act package from the government.

"We are still working hand in hand with the state and the local government the cities, to ask for help," Ramirez added.

Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 49°
Muscle Shoals
Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 50°
Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 49°
Decatur
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 48°
Fort Payne
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 44°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 701847

Reported Deaths: 8777
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby779711168
Davidson72385688
Knox39701432
Hamilton35466337
Rutherford33860294
Unassigned23587134
Williamson21906144
Sumner18644232
Out of TN1615282
Montgomery14979149
Wilson14728164
Sullivan12893218
Blount12267132
Washington12102203
Maury11179128
Bradley1108895
Sevier10704120
Putnam10116151
Madison9273183
Robertson782687
Hamblen7172117
Anderson6947114
Greene6719115
Tipton632969
Gibson5733114
Coffee573282
Dickson552682
Cumberland550576
Bedford540391
Roane530081
Lawrence518869
Carter5171115
McMinn516774
Warren504454
Loudon503550
Jefferson490178
Dyer483386
Monroe467063
Hawkins455272
Franklin420065
Fayette408751
Obion404582
Rhea388457
Lincoln385546
Marshall353338
Cocke352758
Cheatham347331
Weakley344248
Henderson336559
Campbell334940
Giles330574
Carroll315860
White315144
Hardeman314054
Hardin304250
Lauderdale296933
Macon293251
Wayne267424
Henry266958
Overton258846
DeKalb246342
McNairy245442
Haywood243747
Smith234230
Marion233932
Trousdale230315
Scott228832
Hickman227835
Claiborne224932
Fentress215734
Grainger214339
Johnson204634
Morgan193916
Crockett182438
Chester177439
Bledsoe177011
Unicoi169545
Cannon160320
Lake157821
Decatur148628
Polk147817
Union143225
Grundy142622
Sequatchie140319
Humphreys136717
Benton133435
Lewis130121
Meigs117616
Stewart109620
Jackson105723
Perry95825
Clay95426
Houston94624
Moore8299
Pickett69020
Van Buren6737
Hancock4177

Community Events