HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — This morning, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center announced a $10 million donation to build new facilities for their popular space camp by Former Aviation Challenge camper-turned commercial astronaut Jared Isaacman.
Isaacman was one of the first four civilians to circle the globe when he completed Inspiration 4 in September of 2021, but he hopes this latest achievement might be more impactful.
“I’m incredibly thrilled to make this 10-million donation but, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not even close to enough,” Isaacman said. “Space Camp might be located in Huntsville, Alabama, but it’s an asset for the entire nation.”
The donation is the largest single gift in U.S. Space Rocket Center history and it will go towards the construction of a new facility for Space Camp training. Space Center CEO Kimberly Robinson called it the “cornerstone” of space camp programming going forward.
“This $10 million donation is extremely, extremely generous and is going to put us on a course for writing the space history that’s yet to come,” she said.
The plans include a 40-thousand square-foot hangar-style building for astronaut, pilot, and engineer training - named the “Inspiration 4 training center” after the three-day mission around the Earth that Isaacman and his crew went on last fall.
As for the completion of the total project, there is no set timeline, according to Pat Ammons, the Space Center’s Director of Communications, but there is a goal in sight for the immediate next step: picking an architect. The Space Center hopes to have the search completed “in the next few weeks,” Ammons said.
The announcement comes during the Space Center’s 40-year anniversary of its popular Space Camp program and is a way for the organization to look towards the next 40 years.
Standing beside his Inspiration 4 crewmates, Isaacman mentioned a few times how he would like to “invest in our children.”
“Beyond just the corporate perspective, I think one of the greatest objectives for this organization is how do we increase the ceiling and the number of campers that can come through and be exposed to this,” said Isaacman, “and what they are exposed to, make it something that's so impactful - just as it's been throughout its 40-year history - that you come back, and maybe your whole course in life has been forever changed?”
Isaacman attended the Space Camp’s Aviation Challenge program as a kid. The full-circle moment was not lost on Ammons.
“What's really special is that this was somebody who came to our program at 12 years old and was so impacted that he wanted to give back,” she said.