NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is the ultimate spaced themed attraction for any traveller visiting Huntsville, Alabama and wants to learn more about NASA’s history and future of space exploration! Find out how you can visit NASA’s Marshall Center for yourself here.
Want to peek behind the scenes at NASA? Did you know you could do just that? Just one of the many epic space themed bucket list attractions in Huntsville, Alabama, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is an absolute must see for any space geek, nerd or traveller.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is located on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. Being a military base you do have to go through certain security checkpoints and get your visitors badge before being allowed in, but with a tour bus that leaves from the US Space and Rocket Center, home to Space Camp and Marshall’s official visitor center, it really is very easy to book a tour and visit for yourself.
With a seemingly endless array of mechanical artefacts, jaw dropping facility tours and interactive exhibits, the Marshall Space Flight Center highlights the legacy of NASA in Huntsville and showcases the current technology and future innovations of space travel that will take us further and further into the stars and make space tourism a reality! So how exactly do you get to tour Marshall Space Flight Center and what is there to see and do when you get there?
Where Is NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center?
Marshall Space Flight Center is located on the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. To get to Redstone Arsenal’s Gate 9 Visitor Center by car from Huntsville International Airport, just follow the signs along Houston Goodson Way and Glenn Hearn Boulevard to I-565 East. At Exit 14, turn right onto ramp AL-255 on Rideout Road and follow the Gate 9 Visitor Center signs.
If you are coming from the Space and Rocket Center there is a direct tour bus that can take you.
How To Visit NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
If you have prior approval for a visit, you may enter through the Redstone Arsenal Visitor’s Center at Gate 9 on Rideout Road where decals and badges may be obtained for approved visitors. You can find a map of the Redstone Arsenal gates and gate hours at:
How To Book Your NASA Marshall Tour.
To visit NASA Marshall you can book your tickets for the bus tour on the day at the US Space and Rocket Center’s main ticket desk up until 1200 hours, or you can buy them in advance over the phone. Seats are limited every day so it may be a good idea to book in advance.
How Much Is A Tour Of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center?
Space & Rocket Center bus tours of Marshall are $20 for guests ages 5 and up. Children 4 and under ride free.
NASA’s Marshall Tour Logistics.
Once you have booked your tour via phone or at the Space and Rocket Center, it is pretty straightforward.
- The bus departs from the USSRC at precisely 1230 hours.
- You will need ID such as a drivers license or passport.
- You are not allowed to bring any food, drink or large bags.
What Is There To See At NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center?
The tour of NASA Marshall takes you through a number of buildings and sites that have played an essential part in NASAs history and still do today. They aren’t so much attractions like you will find at the USSRC, but you will come away with a renewed awe and respect for mankind’s first steps into the stars.
Building 4200. Marshall’s Central Laboratory and Office building.
This building is most visitors first introduction to MSFC, it is a working administrative building with labs that aren’t open to the public, but there are a number of installations of actual rocket engines here that you can explore at your leisure! It is simply unbelievable that these feats of engineering went to space!
The Historic Test Stands.
These historic test stands are – as the name suggests – the original testing locations for where Wernher Von Braun and the scientists working on the original space program tested the first rockets that actually took mankind to the moon. Honestly I don’t know many sites of such historical importance that get as little fanfare as these test stands. The huge Dynamic Test Stand in the picture above was used to test the actual Saturn V and Space Shuttle rockets! It is defunct now, being replaced by much more modern versions at Stennis Space Center, but the sheer size is mindblowing, and it is difficult to imagine the sheer amount of heat and force this structure endured during testing.
Just like the Space and Rocket Center, Marshall has its very own Rocket Park too, showcasing the rockets developed here during the early testing pahase at NASA, including the Hermes, which is essentially just a converted WWII rocket, a Jupiter C which launched Explorer 1 and the iconic Saturn 1.
The HOSC and ISS Payload Operations Center.
The Huntsville Operations Support Center, or HOSC is one of the best parts of the tour of Marshall. Also known as the ISS Payload Operations Center, this is essentially the nerve centre of the International Space Station. the place in all those sci fi movies where the room full of computer techs and an Army General or two whoop and cheer when the astronaut saves the world at the very last second! Nothing like that happened during my visit unfortunately, but you can see genuine NASA employees going about their daily business, and they genuinely – and I cannot stress just how awesome this is – have an actual honest to God NASA Engineer with the last name Scott. And he does do Scotty impressions when he talks to the ISS. I told you Star Trek was real!
Behind The Scenes At NASA.
I have lost count of the amount of facility tours I have been on through the years, and all of them where interesting in many different ways, but nothing can compare to being behind the scenes at NASA. The Marshall Space Flight Center Tour was one of those truly outstanding moments that will stay ingrained in my memory forever and is an absolute must see for anyone coming to Huntsville. Even if you only have a passing interest in space exploration, to see actual NASA facilities up close and personal like this is a true privilege, and one that you will not want to miss.
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