The Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission (ASSEC) met on February 22, 2019, to hear a quarterly overview of activities at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center including Space Camp and Aviation Challenge programs. Please note that all information provided is from my personal recollection and should in no way be considered official information. Handouts are linked at the end of this post.
After being called to order by ASSEC Chair Homer Hickam, the commission approved the minutes from the November 2, 2018 annual meeting. (see handouts at bottom of this page)
Commission members heard a brief overview of the results of the FY18 audit of ASSEC operations completed by the firm of Anglin Reichmann Armstrong, P.C. The audit found no material weaknesses or reporting instances of noncompliance. Auditors also pointed out “[ASSEC had shown] a continued improvement in profitability from operations as well as an increase in total assets and net position”.
Executive Director Dr. Deborah Barnhart provided her quarterly CEO report that included a media video highlighting the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Space Camp being included in national media. Barnhart also gave updates on the progress of several key projects including the restoration of the Saturn V, the opening of the Apollo 50 exhibit and the upcoming opening of the Intuitive Planetarium. The museum continues to show significant positive progress in attendance, merchandise sales and membership. Movie revenue showed a 15% dip vs FY18 numbers due to the downtime of the planetarium conversion.
Louie Ramirez, Vice President of Finance, gave commission members a brief overview of the center’s finances that included extremely positive summary showing revenues for the center up while expenses are down. The center’s short term cash reserves are around $2.5 million vs $267k in FY18. *Finance information is included in handout below.
Chairs of the various ASSEC committees gave brief reports on their activities that included curriculum updates for Space Camp programs and a brief discussion of the master plan development for the center. There was some more detailed discussion concerning a dip in advancement income. Commission members were advised by center staff that the multiple fundraising efforts currently underway could be cannibalizing new fundraising projects. The commission also discussed the citizenship requirements for attending U.S. Cyber Camp. At the moment the camp is restricted to only US citizens and members of the commission expressed their wishes that this requirement stays in place going forward. It was also discussed that due to changes in Redstone Arsenal’s access policy, some foreign nationals are now able to access the installation under escort. The USSRC is working with NASA to see if the same accommodation can be made to allow foreign nationals to take the NASA MSFC Bus Tour that operates from the center.
The next meeting of the full Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission is scheduled for May 24, 2019.
Wes is a two time Space Camp graduate and space enthusiast with a love of North Alabama. When he isn't busy being a dad he enjoys travel, volunteering and working his life away. All comments are my own.