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U.S. Space & Rocket Center Working To Restore Our Rockets

“These artifacts remind the young generation that the U.S. is the only country to launch man out of Earth’s orbit. Huntsville and Marshall Space Flight center made that happen,” said Ed Buckbee, the USSRC’s retired founding chief executive. Several retired NASA engineers, many who volunteer as emeritus docents at the USSRC, will participate in an advisory role as the rockets are restored.

Contributed by Holly Ralston
U.S. Space & Rocket Center

This article appears in the June 2018 issue of Initiatives Magazine.


There is a legacy that rises tall in Huntsville’s skyline. Embodying the greatest technological achievements of the 20th century, the iconic rockets and hardware at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center give testament to the “Can-do!” spirit that landed man on the moon and continues to make this community a go-to location for high tech innovation and economic development.

In salute to the visionaries who founded Rocket City USA, and to those who carry forward a spirit of discovery, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation has launched the Rocket Protector rocket restoration initiative. Businesses and individuals are encouraged to participate with opportunities to honor the past and celebrate the future.

Pocket protectors are back! Proudly wear the title of “Rocket Protector” with an individual gift of $20 or more to artifact restoration. Visit gospaceeducation.org to donate today and request your Rocket Protector pocket protector. For more information on corporate giving, contact Holly Ralston at advancement@gospaceeducation.org or (256) 721-5425.

The recently established restoration program received a boost last fall from a young boy’s love for all things space and a father’s financial ability to make a difference.

“Seldom do you get to come to a place where history was made and the future is being shaped at the same time,” said Fred Luddy, father of nine-year-old Luke and founder of California-based tech company ServiceNow. Last August, as Luke attended Space Camp, Luddy absorbed the sights and sounds of the USSRC to include the wearing away of paint and color on Huntsville’s heritage: the rockets of Rocket City.

By the time of his son’s Space Camp graduation, Luddy had pledged $500,000, about half the cost toward restoring Rocket Row. Rocket Row includes the Mercury Redstone, Army Redstone, Jupiter, Jupiter C and Juno II.

“When you come here and you see these machines and you see all the work these people have done, you realize the absolute impossible accomplishments that they made, all by applying the STEM disciplines,” said Luddy. He finished his thoughts saying the rockets and all they stand for inspire others to go out and “do something special.”

The restoration initiative also includes the Saturn I and painting of the replica Saturn V that sits outside of the Davidson Center. Estimates are currently being gathered and are anticipated in the millions of dollars.

The legacy of landing man on the moon ignited the growth of not only aerospace and defense industries in Huntsville, but IT, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, cyber security and more. The late Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger, former director of science at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center recalled in an article appearing in a 1999 edition of Huntsville Business Sourcebook, that his boss, manned space flight lead Dr. Wernher von Braun, linked the local chamber of commerce and the scientific community. “He advised the chamber of commerce back then not to put all their eggs in the space basket, but to recruit other companies,” said Dr. Stuhlinger.

Rocket City is who we are. The requisite inspiration and perspiration to launch big ideas give Huntsville its identity. The nation, and especially this community, will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 manned moon landing next July. With the world spotlight on the community, leaders at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation welcome gifts to honor the pioneers of then, now and tomorrow.

It’s more than history, it’s Huntsville’s future.

Visit gospaceeducation.org to donate today and request your Rocket Protector pocket protector. For more information on corporate giving, contact Holly Ralston at advancement@gospaceeducation.org or (256) 721-5425.