A camp that gives kids their space

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- For kids itching to experience weightlessness and to eat freeze-dried foods, Space Camp might be the thing for them.

Space Camp is a training program designed to give kids and young adults a glimpse into what it's like to be an astronaut.

The program is offered at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center here, a space museum owned and operated by the state of Alabama since 1970.

The museum now serves as the official NASA Visitor Center for Marshall Space Flight Center, also here.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is home to the first rocket to put an American into space as well as the Saturn V, the rocket that launched the Apollo 11 astronauts on humanity's first journey to the moon.

Also at the museum is the Space Shot simulator, enabling guests to feel the gravitational force of liftoff and the sensation of weightlessness. The simulator operates from late spring through early fall, weather permitting.

During the Space Camp program, "astronauts in training" learn about the academic, emotional and physical requirements for becoming an astronaut by training, eating, bunking and serving on a simulated mission.

Sessions are offered on a weekly basis through October and on a limited basis in November and December.

Space Camp is offered to children ages 9 to 11 who are attending or have completed the fourth grade. The program is priced at $699 per person for a four-night plan. The cost covers meals, educational programs and materials, accommodations and a T-shirt.

A parent/child Space Camp weekend program is priced at $658 per pair.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center also hosts the Space Academy, Advanced Space Academy and Aviation Challenge programs.

Space Academy and Advanced Space Academy are offered to anyone ages 12 and older. The cost starts at $799 for a five-night plan.

Aviation Challenge teaches the advanced skills needed for going into space and is offered in three groups for youngsters ages 9 to 18. Prices start at $699 for a five-night program.

All of the above prices are net rates.

Call (800) 63-SPACE.

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