Space Center donation.jpg

The most recent donation to Alabama’s number one tourist attraction was a whopper.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center has announced it received a $10 million donation from Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4, a payment processing company, and Draken International, a private Air Force provider.

“This gift is the largest single donation in the Rocket Center’s history,” said Pat Ammons, senior director of public and media relations at the center.

The money is slated for a new Inspiration4 Skills Training Center to support Space Camp programs, she said. The concept is a 40,000-square foot hangar-style building to house the following:

• Space and aviation simulators

• An indoor pool

• A netted space to fly drones

• Classrooms

• A challenge course

The new training center will “bring together many of the Space Camp and Aviation Challenges’ immersive, scenario-themed activities under one roof,” Ammons said.

The new building will also display an L-39 Black Diamond plane, also a gift from Isaacman.

The new training center “will extend water and other weather-dependent outdoor activities year-round,” and is expected to increase the number of Space Camp trainees outside summer months, Ammons said.

An exact timeline for the construction has not been announced, but Ammons said the site selection and choosing of an architectural firm for its design are underway.

Isaacman attended Aviation Challenge at age 12 and later became an entrepreneur, civilian pilot, philanthropist and commercial astronaut.

“Isaacman holds several world records and has flown in more than 100 air shows,” Ammons said. “In September 2021, he commanded Inspiration4, the first all-civilian mission to orbit.”

Isaacman and his crew spent three days on board a SpaceX Dragon Resilience spacecraft during the mission, which raised more than $250 million for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Space Camp was founded in 1982 and celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this month. Since its founding, more than 900,000 campers have graduated from the program, including astronauts Christina Koch, Kate Rubins and Samantha Crostoforetti.

For more information about Space Camp or the rocket center, visit rocketcenter.com.

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