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Iconic rockets are returning to Space & Rocket Center’s Rocket Park

HUNTSVILLE The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is heading back to the future with its eye on space history. 

The tail section of a rocket is lowered into place at the Rocket Park. (U.S. Space & Rocket Center Facebook)

After a six-year absence, the rockets are coming back to the newly renovated Rocket Park, behind the Davidson Center for Space Exploration.

In 2018, the Rocket Center removed its Army Redstone, Jupiter, Jupiter-C, Juno II, and Mercury-Redstone rockets, which were mounted before the Rocket Center opened in 1970.

These vehicles represent the Redstone family of rockets that led to the development of the Saturn I and ultimately the Saturn V that took Americans to the moon. Each of the rockets was transported to Cosmos Aerospace in Cullman for restoration work that included repairs and repainting. Fred Luddy, a Space Camp parent from California, provided significant funding for the restoration project. 

The renewed Rocket Park project includes remounting the rockets, a new amphitheater for educational experiences and community events, and greener, guest-friendly spaces.

A significant feature will be the Marshall Retirees Association’s Space Exploration Memorial. The memorial wall will include the names of thousands of local people who have supported space exploration as employees of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and companies that work with NASA. 

Another important addition to Rocket Park will be a section of the SLS Core Stage Pathfinder, a mock-up that matches the size, weight, and center of gravity of the Space Launch System that is managed by Marshall Space Flight Center.

The Pathfinder was used at Kennedy Space Center and other NASA centers to practice handling an actual vehicle. The segment will illustrate the massive size of the SLS launch vehicle and help tell the story of the Rocket City’s current and ongoing role in space exploration.  

The new Rocket Park along with the Space Camp Operations Center, which last May, are part of an ongoing renewal of the Rocket Center campus. 

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