In 1950, when Dr. Werner von Braun arrived in Huntsville, the city boasted a population of
only 15,000. More than fifty years later it has been forever forged into the history books
as the place where America's space program began, where the rockets were developed
that put the first US satellites into orbit, that sent men to the moon, and went on to
power the Space Shuttle.
As Director of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Dr. Braun cultivated the idea to
expose young people to science and math using the space program as the focal point of a
course of study. If the country had baseball and football camps, why couldn't science have
a camp to encourage interest in the space program? In the mid 1970s, he began to work on
the Space Camp idea with then US Space & Rocket Center Director Ed O'Buckbee, who saw
the idea through to fruition in 1982.
That first year was much like space travel, a step into the unknown. But 747 students
signed up to find out about the excitement of space exploration. The following year that
number rose to 1,400. The next year it was over 2,000. Then 3,000. 5,000. In 1986, with the
release of the movie "SpaceCamp", which was filmed on location, attendance shot
to over 12,000. The word was out.
Although already a self-proclaimed "space nut" by then, it was through the motion
picture my first taste of space exploration came. When I heard Space Camp was a bonafide
real place, I had to go. In 1989, at the age of twelve, I became a trainee for the first
time. And over the years I've had the privilege of returning to Space Camp time and
again to re-kindle the passion of space exploration.
SpaceLink is a celebration of everything SpaceCamp - from the museum to the movie,
and everything in between - with a personal slant. The items that you'll find within
come from my personal collection, which I am more than happy to share. And perhaps in
doing so this site, as small as it may be, can be a beacon to those space travelers
who fell in love with the Space Camp experience as I did.