HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Boeing has made a $500,000 leadership gift to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s “Save Space Camp” campaign.
The campaign is seeking to raise a minimum of $1.5 million by October to keep the museum and Space Camp from closing.
The Space & Rocket Center has faced devastating financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The loss of revenue has already led to employee furloughs and layoffs.
The Rocket Center closed on March 13 in keeping with state health orders. The museum reopened in late May, but with far fewer than normal visitors.
Space Camp did not reopen until June 28. USSRC officials said they had only 20 percent of the usual attendance.
Space Camp will again close for weeklong camp programs in September due in part to limited admission from international students and school groups this fall and winter.
Spokeswoman Pat Ammons said these ongoing challenges have resulted in a two-thirds loss of revenue.
In May, the Rocket Center laid off one third of its full-time employees and was unable to employ an additional 700 part-time employees who typically work in all areas of Space Camp and the museum.
The majority of the remaining full-time employees have been furloughed since April.
“We understand the unprecedented economic hardship the COVID-19 pandemic has caused educational institutions all across the country,” said John Shannon, vice president and program manager for Space Launch Systems at Boeing. “The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a cherished institution that has inspired generations of future scientists, engineers, pilots and even astronauts – many of whom now call Boeing home. With today’s investment, we proudly stand alongside the Center – throughout this pandemic and beyond – as we work towards our shared goal of making Space Camp an even better, brighter, more inclusive experience for our future innovators.”
“I am awed and grateful for the generous support from Boeing for this vital campaign,” said USSRC CEO and Executive Director Louie Ramirez. “This has been a devastating season for the Rocket Center and Space Camp, but our family of supporters have given us hope for the future. Boeing has been a longtime and important supporter of the work we do. They understand the role the Rocket Center has in sharing the work of Huntsville’s aerospace community and in Space Camp’s unique role in inspiring its future work force. We thank them for this clear and profound statement of support.”
Thousands of people have already donated more than $600,000 within the first three days of the campaign. Boeing’s donation adds brings the amount to more than $1.1 million.
If you would like to help save Space Camp, click here to donate.