HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The U.S. Space and Rocket Center may be a Smithsonian affiliate museum and the official visitor center for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, but it remains open during its normal hours during the government shutdown affecting the nation.
"The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is wide open. We are open seven days a week, normal hours," said Pat Ammons, USSRC Director of Communications.
Because of the center's name and ties to federal institutions and agencies, many tourists have called the Rocket Center or messaged them to see if they are affected by the shutdown according to Ammons.
"We have gotten a lot of phone calls," she acknowledged. "Sometimes people will make connections and think we follow the same structure as NASA. But we are an agency of the state of Alabama rather than a federal institution."
The center even has a banner on its website to tell people it is open as usual.
"While we are the official visitor center and we tell the Marshall story here, we operate as a self-sustaining entity on our own," Ammons explained. "We set our own operational hours, so we are not affected by the shutdown." She added the U.S. Space and Rocket Center is operated as a state commission with a board appointed by the Alabama Governor. It is a not for profit corporation.
Ammons said the shutdown also has no effect on the bus tours at the Rocket Center each afternoon.
"We have been very fortunate that the places we go on Redstone Arsenal and the NASA facilities at Redstone Arsenal are what's considered essential or historic," she stated.