If you’re an aspiring astronaut too young to even drive a car, for the past 38 years Space Camp has been a fun and educational way to start your training. But as a result of the pandemic and a severe lack of attendance, the last remaining Space Camp is in a state of financial crisis, and it’s reaching out to the public for donations to stay afloat.
Buoyed by the Space Shuttle program, the Space Camp experience was incredibly popular in the ‘80s, even inspiring a feature film of the same name in 1986 in which camp attendees are accidentally blasted into orbit. (Not based on actual events.) The original camp opened in 1982 in Huntsville, Alabama, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and was followed by two other camps in Titusville, Florida, which opened in 1988, and Mountain View, California, which opened in 1996. The two additional camps were both forced to close in 2002 due to financial difficulties, but the original has soldiered on.
However, the Huntsville Space Camp is yet another victim in a long list of businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, having had to close its weeklong programs until April 2021 resulting in the camp suffering a two-thirds loss of its annual revenue in 2020. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center museum, where the camp is located, is also facing similar financial challenges, and to avoid having to shut down completely in October, officials have created a “Save Space Camp” GoFundMe campaign that’s looking to raise $1.5 million.
In a little over 21 hours, the camp’s GoFundMe has managed to raise over $314,000 and appears to be on track to raise the money it needs to at least keep the lights on until 2021 when it can welcome guests again. With the camp’s alumni hailing from a diverse background, including several graduates who’ve actually gone on to visit space, hopefully, they’ll be able to convince other space enthusiasts with deep pockets to contribute and keep the Space Camp experience going once this pandemic is over.