U.S. Space & Rocket Center Receives Record $10 Million Dollar Gift for new Space Camp and Aviation Challenge Facility

Concept art of the Inspiration4 Skills Training Center / USSRC Handout

U.S. Space & Rocket Center CEO Dr. Kimberly Robinson and Shift4 Founder and CEO Jared Isaacman today announced a $10 million gift for a new Inspiration4 Skills Training Center at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center to support Space Camp programs. The planned concept is a 40,000-square-foot, hanger-style building that will include space and aviation simulators, an indoor pool, a netted drone space, classrooms and a challenge course for training the next generation of astronauts, pilots and engineers.

This gift is the largest single donation in the Rocket Center’s history. It allows the Rocket Center to create a new state-of-the-art facility to bring together many of Space Camp and Aviation Challenges’ immersive, scenario-themed activities under one roof and update the Space Camp program that was founded in 1982 and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week.

The Rocket Center is in the final site selection for the Inspiration4 Skills Training Center along with an architectural firm for the design. Once operational, this new facility will extend water and other weather-dependent outdoor activities year-round and enable Space Camp to increase the number of trainees that can attend each year outside the summer season.

L-39 Albatros featured at the 2012 Barksdale Air Force Base Defenders of Liberty Air Show – Imagine Courtesy USAF Photo / Airman 1st Class Joseph A. Pagán Jr.

A highlight of the new facility will be the display of an L-39 Black Diamond plane Isaacman is also donating to the Rocket Center.

Jared Isaacman is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, accomplished civilian pilot and commercial astronaut who attended Aviation Challenge as a 12-year-old. Isaacman holds several world records and has flown in more than 100 air shows. In September 2021, he commanded Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit, spending three days aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. 

Other Inspiration4 crew members include: Chris Sembroski, mission specialist, senior analytics engineer for Lockheed Martin and a former Space Camp counselor; Hayley Arceneaux, the crew’s medical officer and a physician’s assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and Dr. Sian Proctor, the mission pilot and a geoscience professor.

The Inspiration4 mission raised more than $250 million for St. Jude, the Memphis-based pediatric cancer research hospital that does not charge the families of children for their treatment.