Topic: Filming locations for "SpaceCamp" (1985 movie)
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011
posted 02-03-2014 07:35 PM
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.
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Jun 2001
posted 02-03-2014 07:36 PM
The lodging scenes in the SpaceCamp movie were filmed in Hab2, the building just west of Hab1.
Registered: Jul 2006
posted 02-03-2014 07:56 PM
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.
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007
posted 02-03-2014 10:57 PM
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 Hab1.com 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.
From: Chattanooga, TN
Registered: Dec 2011
posted 02-04-2014 09:42 PM
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.
Space & Rocket Center opens
Von Braun and Ed Buckbee come up with idea for Space Camp
Space & Rocket Center hosts first Space Camps
First "Great Moonbuggy Race" held
Discovery motion-based sim enters service
Space Camp movie filmed on location
Space Camp movie hits theaters
Space Academy Level II established
Pathfinder orbiter delivered to Space & Rocket Center
Atlantis sim enters service
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
Shuttle Park and Habitat dorms finished
Aviation Challenge opens
Endeavour motion-based shuttle sim enters service
Space Shot added to Rocket Park
Space Camp California opens
Space Academy Level II renamed Advanced Space Academy
Astrotrek building opens
Saturn V mockup built
MSFC bus tours halted after 9/11
Intrepid shuttle sim enters service
Space Camp Florida closes
Space Camp California closes
Space Camp 25th Anniversary
Space Camp Hall Of Fame established
Davidson Center opens
A Smile As Big As The Moon filmed on location
MSFC bus tours resume
Registered: Aug 2002
posted 02-04-2014 10:48 PM
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.
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011
posted 02-04-2014 11:11 PM
quote: 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.
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.