Space Center U®

Ages 18+ program

Space Center University graduate program offers a challenging, quality STEM education experience inspired by space exploration for those who have completed secondary education. This five-day engineering design program provides adults an authentic, higher-level learning experience that exposes them to skills needed for project management while applying them to their hands-on challenges connected to real space exploration missions. The program includes the following:

  • Hands-on, engineering-based activities and data collection technology integration for real-world analysis.
  • Behind-the-scenes access to “the real thing” including exciting tours of actual astronaut training and work facilities, such as NASA Johnson Space Center, Rocket Park and the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.
  • Interactive, project-based learning that includes sustainable habitat construction, robot retrieval mission and programming, multi-stage rocket design and launch, underwater “astronaut training,” collaborative teaming and global awareness development.
  • Hear from space industry experts about what it takes to work at NASA and the projects that prepare humans for space exploration.
  • Daily lunch served at Space Center Houston in the Zero-G Diner.
  • Brunch with an Astronaut.
  • Graduation ceremony and certificates.

Space Center U logo

International participation


Program activities

Space Exploration…Getting There

Rocket launch


Participants will learn about the history of rocketry prior to designing, building and launching a two-stage rocket with a payload. Students will perform stability tests to ensure their rockets are flight-ready and work through calculations to determine apogee, or maximum altitude. Launch site and date may vary based on weather conditions.

Thermal system test

Bring the Heat

Landing on a distant planet will be no easy task. Heat shields must withstand temperatures of over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (537 degrees Celsius) due to the friction of the atmosphere. Students will design, construct and test a thermal heat shield to be able to withstand such extreme temperatures. This exercise simulates the effects on the space capsule heat shield during entry into the Martian atmosphere.


Cryogenics Testing

Can you protect your astronaut from the cold conditions on Mars? Learn about spacesuit design as you design and build a cryo-capsule to protect your astronauts from extreme temperatures of -321 degrees Fahrenheit (-196 degrees Celsius).

Team building


Being an astronaut means working with teammates to ensure the mission is a success. Each day students will be engaged in team building activities to learn how to listen, communicate, collaborate and solve problems together. This includes assigning team roles, delegating jobs and maintaining a budget for the duration of the week.

Astronauts and Engineers…Living There

Scuba diving


Working with licensed dive instructors in a local indoor swimming pool, participants will learn the techniques taught to astronauts as part of their preparation for performing tasks in microgravity. Students will construct a mock-up airlock and perform other essential tasks similar to those developed by NASA.



Students must decide how to engineer a robotic rover based on a given set of parameters and tasks that the rover must accomplish on Mars. They begin with a budget and price list for supplies and then are given varying real-world criteria to design, construct and test their rovers. The rovers will be put to the test by collecting rock samples and executing student designed coding programs to maneuver on Mars.

Mars habitat


What is it like living in space? How do astronauts get enough clean water and air? What happens if something goes wrong? Are there alternate sources of energy? How do astronauts communicate and work with peoples from different cultures? Students will participate in SIM (simulated) scenarios, building their own habitat that sustains core areas of life while maintaining cultural and global awareness.

Guest lecture


Take part in an authentic learning experience by hearing from a space industry expert. Our guest speakers will share what inspired them early on during their STEM career path, what schools they attended, what classes were taken and what unique projects they are currently working on to help further space exploration.

It’s Not Rocket Science…Oh, Wait, Yes It Is!

Neutral Buoyancy Lab tour

NASA Exclusives: Behind-the-Scenes Reality Tours

Students will tour NASA Johnson Space Center with stops at historic Apollo era Mission Control, Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory and the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility including its full-size training modules of the International Space Station. See rockets up-close that were used in early space exploration. Experience the shuttle replica Independence atop the historic Boeing 747 shuttle carrier aircraft.

Independence Plaza

Independence Plaza

Get a rare glimpse into the Space Shuttle Program with a tour of Houston’s international landmark exhibit Independence Plaza. Students will go inside the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence, mounted on top of the historic and original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA), and then explore the giant plane.

Starship Gallery

Starship Gallery

Starship Gallery at Space Center Houston is home to multiple flown spacecraft and national treasures. Get an up-close look at some of the most amazing artifacts that trace the progression of human space exploration. Students will see and touch real moon rocks and flown spacecraft while learning about the history of space flight.

Graduation Day

Brunch with an astronaut

Brunch with an Astronaut

Dine with a NASA astronaut and hear their first-hand stories about space exploration. Ask questions about their mission experience and learn what it takes to become an astronaut.



Celebrate your achievements at Space Center U® graduation surrounded by one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of space suits in our Astronaut Gallery. To commemorate the special experience, students will receive Space Center U certificates and medals.

Sample weekly agenda

Monday Welcome in Mission Briefing Center, NASA Johnson Space Center tour, two-stage rocket build, Thermal Heat Shield & Cryogenics Challenge
Tuesday Rocket launch, Martian habitat challenge and presentations
Wednesday Guest speaker, robotic design, construction and coding
Thursday Neutral Buoyancy Lab tour, thermal heat shield & cryogenics testing, SCUBA Dive Challenge
Friday Brunch and Q&A with an Astronaut, Starship Gallery tour, Independence Plaza tour, graduation ceremony

*Activities are subject to change without notice due to weather or unforeseen circumstances.

Program details

Age and class size requirements

Participants must be at least 18 years old and preferably enrolled in a college or university. If the participant is 17 and turning 18, they may attend with the understanding that the material is designed for the college-level learning. Space Center Houston has the right to deny participants if they do not meet the age requirement as the curriculum is designed for college-level students.

Groups must have a minimum of 10 participants. If a group has less than 10, they will need to pay the minimum fee (See payment information). Individual registrations are accepted only on the dates that have confirmed participants already scheduled to ensure that there are the minimum number of students to book the program.

The maximum per event is 70 students. Larger groups will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

A minimum of 1:10 chaperons to student ratio is required for the program. Chaperones are not required for individual registrations.

Pricing information

Individuals and groups with less than 20 students

No hotel included; Includes admission, supplies, staff, lunch and graduation.

Students $674.95
Chaperones $674.95

Includes hotel (double-occupancy), admission, supplies, staff, lunch and graduation.

Students $1045.95
Chaperones $1045.95

Graduation ceremony and Brunch with an Astronaut parent and non-program participant price: $69.95 per person.

Groups with 20 students or more

No hotel included; Includes admission, supplies, staff, lunch and graduation.

Students $579.95
Chaperones $579.95

Includes hotel (double-occupancy), admission, supplies, staff, lunch and graduation.

Students $975.95
Chaperones $975.95

Graduation Ceremony and Brunch with an Astronaut parent and non-program participant price: $69.95 per person.

Payment information

Payment types and requirements

Space Center Houston accepts credit cards, money orders, cashier’s checks and wire transfers. Please note that wire fees are the responsibility of the group and are in addition to all program costs. Personal checks or purchase orders are not accepted.

A major credit card is the required form of payment to secure your reservation. The credit card will be charged at the time of booking for your administrative fees and will also be used for final payment if other arrangements have not been made four (4) weeks prior to the day of visit. The reservation will automatically be canceled if the credit card is declined and repayment has not been arranged.

Please make payment to Space Center Houston and mail to:
Space Center Houston
1601 NASA Parkway
Houston, TX 77058
Attention: Reservations


Group Registration and Administration Fee $300
Additional Night Hotel Fee (Applies to all group sizes) $125 per room

Space Center U requires a $300 non-refundable administration fee to make and secure your reservation and date. The date cannot be booked without payment with full and final payment required four weeks prior to your event date.

Wire fees are the responsibility of the group and are in addition to all program cost. Exact payments are required. Wire transfers must be received by Space Center Houston four (4) weeks before the scheduled date.

Final payment

Final payment and final number of participants are due four (4) weeks prior to the day of visit. Space Center Houston reserves the right to cancel any reservation if final payment is not received four (4) weeks prior to the day of visit.

Space Center Houston reserves the right to cancel prior to the event due to low enrollment. Final cancellations for this reason will be determined four (4) weeks or more from the scheduled date.

Cancellations and refunds

No refunds will be within four (4) weeks of your visit due to the advanced hotel reservations, staff scheduling, food preparation and material purchasing. For this reason, refunding partial or full payment is not possible.

Cancellation of your visit must be received in writing, four (4) weeks prior to the date of visit.

Space Center Houston reserves the right to cancel prior to the event due to low enrollment. Final cancellations for this reason will be determined four (4) weeks or more from the scheduled date.

Hotel Lodging

Lodging will be the responsibility of the group. Space Center Houston offers an "all-inclusive package," which include hotel accommodations that will be coordinated by Space Center Houston. You may add-on an additional day for $125 per room per night. Note: hotel bookings are for double occupancy only, single occupancy is not permitted. Additional nights or extra rooms are the responsibility of the group.

Daily transportation to and from the hotel to Space Center Houston is the responsibility of the group.

All room arrangements are indoors with no outside access. All rooms are key access.

Hotel Code of Conduct
Each group is responsible for their students’ behavior while staying in the hotel. Space Center Houston is not responsible for unruly behavior and/or damage caused by participants in the Space Center U Program.


Transportation from any airport to the hotel is the responsibility of the participant.

Transportation to and from the hotel to Space Center Houston, the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory and the scuba dive session will also be the responsibility of the group.

Groups should meet with the Program Coordinator at 8 a.m. each day at the front of Space Center Houston for check in and instructions.



Lunch is provided Monday through Thursday in Zero-G Diner. Participants are given a meal ticket daily. Menu items may be chosen that are sensitive to personal dietary requirements and preferences from the stations available.

Other Meals

All-inclusive hotels offer a hot breakfast. All other hotels selected by the group, breakfast is the responsibility of the group.

Evening meals are the responsibility of the participants. There are several restaurants within walking distance of Space Center Houston, as well as most of the area hotels used for lodging.

A “Brunch with an Astronaut” will take place at 9 a.m. on Friday morning. Brunch will offer a buffet style meal for all participants. Parents are welcome to join for a fee of $69.95. A minimum of two day advanced notice is needed.

What to bring


  • Pack enough clothing for at least 6 days.
  • Be sure to bring a swimsuit, t-shirt and towel for the dive session.
  • Pack a jacket as it may get cold in the classroom and a raincoat (in case of inclement weather) for the tram ride each day.

Other Items

  • Cameras are welcome.
  • Participants may want some form of entertainment for the evenings at the hotel. Don’t forget to bring a charger for phone or game.
  • Most hotels used have Wi-Fi access.
  • Students may also want to bring cash for incidentals, evening meals and souvenirs.


The safety of all participants and staff is very important.

If inclement weather is forecasted and Space Center Houston is asked to close, we will notify all participants. If a participant cannot get to Space Center U due to the weather, please call and notify Reservations or your Education contact.

Rocket launch dates will be moved or cancelled if inclement weather occurs.

International participants

Space Center Houston can provide a Visa letter upon request for all international visitors. Visa Invitation letters will only be issued after the administration fee and registration forms have been completed. The letter will be sent to the group coordinator. Space Center Houston will not send the letter to the Embassy or Consulate.

For more information, please read the Space Center U™ frequently asked questions, call +1 281-283-4755 or email

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