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Author Topic:   Filming locations for "SpaceCamp" (1985 movie)

Posts: 1642
From: Olympia, WA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 02-03-2014 07:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know much about the history of Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, in regard to the transition to what it looks like now. Many older photos you find of the center are on the inside, so it's hard to know what got built, and when.

In the Pathfinder Shuttle Exhibit photo in this thread, the Astrotek building and the Habitat One ('The HAB') appear to me yet to be built. That makes me wonder when that photo was taken as I assumed the HAB and Astrotek buildings were around when they filmed the "SpaceCamp" movie in 1985, but I'd assume that Pathfinder wasn't there at the time of the filming.

It's confusing as I'd read that portions of the 1985 movie were filmed in a building that from that photo, doesn't appear to have existed at that time...

Wikipedia says that the Pathfinder stack was put into place there in 1988; I wouldn't have expected that immediate are to look too unfinished at that point.


Posts: 649
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Jun 2001

posted 02-03-2014 07:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts205cdr   Click Here to Email sts205cdr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The lodging scenes in the SpaceCamp movie were filmed in Hab2, the building just west of Hab1.


Posts: 977
From: Michigan
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 02-03-2014 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The bunk scenes were actually filmed in what was the old cafeteria, "The Lunch Pad".

The bubble dome (now located at Aviation Challenge) originally covered what is now known as Hab2 (where I bunked in 1984). All sims and training took place in this dome and a portion of the movie was filmed here. The dome was removed and the current day permanent building was constructed over Hab2.

Jay Chladek

Posts: 2272
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 02-03-2014 10:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I bunked in the old Space Camp locations as well back in the spring of 1985. The exterior building that says "Space Camp" in the film was the original entrance to the Omnimax/Imax theater in the USSRC main building (presumably the interior was used for the name badges bit). I believe it has been covered over or remodeled today (and Hab 1 occupies part of that area).

The "Lunch Pad" was adjacent to the Saturn 1 Block 2 rocket in the rocket garden. It was no mean feat to re-dress it as the bunk rooms (it was used for both the boys and girls quarters with slight redressing for the different scenes) since as I recall it was split in half into the kitchen and cafeteria facility and dominated by this big conveyor belt to bring the food choices out from the kitchen.

Yes indeed, the below ground area of Hab 2 was where the original Space Camp bunks were. The two bubbles on top house all the Space Camp simulators at the time for the Level 1 and 2 camps (the movie depicted the Level 2 camp essentially). Inside the short dome was the Level 1 shuttle simulator, a Gemini boilerplate capsule with gear struts attached, the 5DF (air cushion contraption with a harness on it) and I believe the moonwalk simulation track. The larger double dome housed "The Right Stuff" which was the Level 2 shuttle simulator and the Spacelab/Space station mockup. Level 2 Mission Control I believe was also tucked away into that dome. The shuttle sim, the crane arm (with the MMU attached) and the mission control were all seen in the movie, looking about as they did when I was there.

Additional items and displays in that double dome also included a clean room area where one camper (close enough in size and stature) could put on an Apollo A7 suit. They wouldn't say whose suit it was when I was there, but I suspect it was Pete Conrad's, given his short size (we see that room used in a quick shot).

Now one bit that will throw people who visited Space Camp in the 1980s is the road outside was quite different from today. Back then, the USSRC was just off a two lane divided highway and the area beyond was a pasture with cows. Today it has an interstate there (sunk lower than the level of the old highway if I recall correctly). So I believe the bit with the Stearman biplane landing in front of the camp was real as the pastureland in the background looks right to what I can remember.

As for the newer buildings, they were put in circa 1988-90. The web forum has some links to pictures and memorabilia from that period. This one set of images I found show that the new simulators were up and running at least by 1988.

Space Camp had taken off almost like a rocket from its formative days in 1983. The success brought about by the increased attendance and its appearance in the film helped to add to its coffers and with the increased funds, they were able to do A LOT of development. The hotel next door was being built when I was there and was finished the next year from what I remember.


Posts: 41
From: Chattanooga, TN
Registered: Dec 2011

posted 02-04-2014 09:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hotdog   Click Here to Email hotdog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is my "Space Camp Timeline" which should give you an idea of what-was-where-when.

There's still a few things I need to add as I'm sure I've left some things out! But this covers most of the big stuff.

  • 1970
    Space & Rocket Center opens

  • 1977
    Von Braun and Ed Buckbee come up with idea for Space Camp

  • 1982
    Space & Rocket Center hosts first Space Camps

  • 1983
    First "Great Moonbuggy Race" held

  • 1984-1985
    Discovery motion-based sim enters service

  • 1985
    Space Camp movie filmed on location

  • 1986
    Space Camp movie hits theaters

  • 1987
    Space Academy Level II established
    Pathfinder orbiter delivered to Space & Rocket Center
    Atlantis sim enters service

  • 1988
    New training facility opens with Enterprise shuttle sim
    Construction of Shuttle Park and the Hab begins
    First special-ed Space Camp began by Mike Kersjes
    Space Camp Florida opens

  • 1989
    Shuttle Park and Habitat dorms finished

  • 1990
    Aviation Challenge opens
    Endeavour motion-based shuttle sim enters service

  • 1996
    Space Shot added to Rocket Park
    Space Camp California opens

  • 1997
    Space Academy Level II renamed Advanced Space Academy

  • 1999
    Astrotrek building opens
    Saturn V mockup built

  • 2001
    MSFC bus tours halted after 9/11
    Intrepid shuttle sim enters service

  • 2002
    Space Camp Florida closes
    Space Camp California closes

  • 2007
    Space Camp 25th Anniversary
    Space Camp Hall Of Fame established

  • 2008
    Davidson Center opens

  • 2011
    A Smile As Big As The Moon filmed on location

  • 2012
    MSFC bus tours resume


Posts: 1337
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 02-04-2014 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's cool that bus tours have resumed. In my visit last century, the tour guide pointed out all the ground hogs. I enjoy seeing the Saturn V. I hope to visit Huntsville again this year.


Posts: 1642
From: Olympia, WA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 02-04-2014 11:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
So I believe the bit with the Stearman biplane landing in front of the camp was real as the pastureland in the background looks right to what I can remember.
I had always assumed they filmed that Stearman sequence somewhere else. Thanks for the info, I had no idea that 525 was a two-lane road at the time.

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