Space in Alabama

By | Category: Travel news

rocketcenter2If you think of the American space programme you think of Cape Canaveral and Houston. You don’t think of Huntsville in Alabama yet the city hosts the US Space and Rocket Center.

More than 580,000 people visited the attraction last year, ranking it number one among the visitor attractions of the state that charge admission.

Why Huntsville? 64 years ago, a German scientist – Wernher von Braun – arrived in the city. He had been one of the key engineers during the war developing Germany’s rocket propulsion systems. His arrival at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville in 1950 concentrated American minds onto space endeavours. For the next 20 years he worked in the city and, almost coinciding with his move to Washington DC in 1970, the US Space and Rocket Center opened to the public.

After the space centre, the next biggest state attraction is Birmingham Zoo with 574,176 visitors and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at third with 530,678, state tourism officials say. The USS Alabama Battleship Park in Mobile placed fourth with 371,229 visitors and the McWane Science Center was fifth with 316,918.  Point Mallard Park was sixth with 246,093.  The Montgomery Zoo ranked seventh with 244,178 and the Huntsville Botanical Garden was eighth with 225,000.  EarlyWorks Museums in Huntsville was ninth with 189,500 and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was tenth with 177,055.

Five of the state’s Top Ten attractions charging admission showed an increase in attendance over previous years.

The Alabama Tourism Department also released the Top Ten attendance figures for other categories.  Remembering that the oil spillage affected this coastline a few years ago, the beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast  have rebounded and were the number one natural destination in the state, attracting 5.5 million visitors last year. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens attracted 350,000 visitors to make it the most attended free attraction. Almost 800,000 people celebrated Mobile’s Mardi Gras making it the most attended event.  Bryant-Denny Stadium was the number one sports destination with 710,538 fans attending University of Alabama home football games.

Estimates showed that more than 24 million people visited the state last year. Over the 10-year-period from 2003 to 2013, travel spending in Alabama has increased 51% according to the report conducted by Auburn University Montgomery.

Yet few Britons visit this state, perhaps because there are no direct air link, just space links

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