HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The latest addition to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) was unveiled Friday morning. 

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday to officially open the Space Camp Operations Center. 

Hundreds were in attendance Friday as Governor Kay Ivey, state and local officials, and aerospace leaders celebrated the grand opening of the new facility. 

The celebration focused on the USSRC’s commitment to educating students about space and the future of space exploration. 

Governor Ivey says the new operations center exemplifies Alabama’s commitment to providing endless opportunities for our children. 

“This center is gonna be a great asset in teaching all of our students the STEM subjects and making them experts if you will. It will also stimulate creative, innovative thinking on their parts so they’ll want to explore the world and outer space,” Ivey said.

USSRC CEO and Executive Director, Dr. Kimberly Robinson believes the new 40,600 square-foot facility will give camp goers and visitors a whole new experience. 

“It is going to just revamp the face of space camp and it’s going to be the front door for all of our visitors that come to the state of Alabama and to the city of Huntsville,” Robinson said. 

The construction of the new facility was made possible thanks to a $10 million economic development grant to expand space camp programs, and a sponsorship with Boeing. 

The operations center features ten classrooms, two collaboration zones, a cyber mission control, a check-in center, and one of the largest multi-purpose auditoriums in North Alabama. 

Space camp alum and NASA Astronaut, Bob Hines believes the latest addition will have a lasting impact on future generations of camp goers. 

“Stepping into a building like this, it feels like you’re walking into the future. And so, that alone is inspirational,” Hines said. 

He hopes campers from all over the world leave space camp reaching for the stars. 

“If you fail or if you have a couple of setbacks along the way, one thing we always say, ‘we learn more from our failures than we do our successes.’ And so, taking those risks and moving forward, that’s how we do it,” Hines concluded. 

Counselors are already using the facility to train and prepare for all the students attending camp this summer.

The center held its first space camp graduation Thursday evening.  

The first group of campers will begin activities in the new building on Sunday, May 21.