Space Center U®

Ages 15-18 program

Space Center University® offers challenging, quality STEM education inspired by space exploration. This year we are offering the Space Center University Clean Room experience to educate our future engineers in an immersive way while also maintaining health and safety.

The five-day Martian program includes the following:

  • Clean room protocol to prepare for engineering design activities.
  • 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, and Rocket Park. *Tours subject to availability.
  • Interactive, project-based learning that includes sustainable habitat construction, robot retrieval mission and programming, multi-stage rocket design and launch, underwater “astronaut training,” and more.
  • Hear from virtual guest speakers about what it takes to work at NASA and the projects that prepare humans for space exploration.
  • Live virtual Astronaut presentation with Q&A
  • socially distanced graduation ceremony with certificates


Individuals and groups with three or fewer participants should register online. Online registration 
Groups with four or more participants should register via PDF form.
Space Center U logo
Space Center U logo


Three-day programs
  • Feb 13-15, 2021
  • May 29-31, 2021
Five-day programs
  • March 15-19, 2021

Additional dates available upon request for groups of 10 or more.

Program activities

Space Exploration…Getting There

Rocket launch

Mars or Bust

Participants will have the option to design and build a one or two stage rocket build based on the goals for their mission. Crews will launch their rockets during the week to determine who has a successful launch and the highest altitude. Launch site and date may vary based on weather conditions.

Thermal testing

Bring the Heat

Students will design, construct and test a thermal heat shield to be able to withstand temperatures up to 1,000° Fahrenheit (538° Celsius). 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? Design and build a cryo-capsule to protect your astronauts from extreme temperatures of -321° Fahrenheit (-196° Celsius).

Astronauts and Engineers…Living There


Working in Weightlessness

Working with licensed dive instructors, and the highest level of safety protocols, in a local indoor swimming pool, participants will learn the techniques taught to astronauts as part of their preparation for performing tasks in microgravity. After which students will construct a mock-up airlock and perform other essential tasks similar to those developed by NASA. If participants do not wish to SCUBA, there will be water robotic activities on deck while social distancing.


Roving Robotics

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. The rovers will be put to the test by collecting rock samples and executing student designed coding programs to maneuver on Mars.

Martian habitat

Living on Mars

What’s 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, build a Martian habitat that sustains core areas of life while maintaining cultural and global awareness.

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

Neutral Buoyancy Lab

NASA Exclusives: Behind-the-Scenes Reality Tours

Students will tour NASA Johnson Space Center with stops at Rocket Park 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 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, and then explore the giant plane. Afterwards, they will view and learn about the twice-flown Space X Falcon 9 booster rocket. *All tours are subject to availability.

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 real Moon rocks and flown spacecraft while learning about the history of space flight.

Graduation Day

Virtual Astronaut Presentation

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


Celebrate your students’ achievements at Space Center U® graduation. To commemorate the special experience, students will receive Space Center U certificates and first, second, and third place medals.

Sample three-day agenda

Day 1
  • Welcome
  • NASA Johnson Space Center Rocket Park tour
  • Robotic design, construction, and coding challenge
Day 2
  • Starship Gallery, Independence Plaza and SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket tour
  • Rocket design and build
  • Biochemical engineering challenge
Day 3
  • Rocket launch
  • Guest speaker
  • Scuba dive activity
  • Graduation ceremony

Sample five-day agenda

Monday Welcome, NASA Johnson Space Center tour, one or two-stage rocket build
Tuesday Mars Exhibit tour and  Martian habitat challenge, thermal and cryogenic design
Wednesday Independence Plaza tour, robotics design & construction
Thursday Rocket launch, Thermal/Cryogenics testing and scuba dive activity
Friday Q&A with an Astronaut, Starship Gallery tour, NASA guest speaker, graduation ceremony

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

Program details

Age and class size requirements

To maintain safe camp practices and social distancing procedures, there will be smaller class sizes, so registration spots are limited.

Participants must be between the ages of 15-18.

If the participant is 14 and turning 15, they may attend with the understanding that the material is designed for high school, age-appropriate learning.

Participants will have their own individual workstations and be socially distanced from other participants for the activities.

Pricing information

2021 prices

Three-day - No hotel included; Includes admission, supplies, staff, lunch and graduation. $474.95/student
Three-day - Hotel included (double-occupancy), admission, supplies, staff, lunch and graduation. $899.95/student
Five-day - No hotel included; Includes admission, supplies, staff, lunch and graduation. $674.95/student
Five-day - Includes hotel (double-occupancy), admission, supplies, staff, lunch and graduation. $1045.95/student

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 one week 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 (applies to groups with more than 10 participants) $300
Additional Night Hotel Fee (applies to all group sizes) $125 per room

Space Center U requires a $300 non-refundable administration fee for groups 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 one week before the scheduled date.

Final payment

Final payment and final number of participants are due one week prior to the day of visit. Space Center Houston reserves the right to cancel any reservation if final payment is not received one week 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 one week or more from the scheduled date.

Cancellations and refunds

No refunds will be within one week 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, one week 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 one week 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 to and from Space Center Houston is the responsibility of the participant.

Participants will also need transportation to their SCUBA dive at Williams Pool located at 15000 McConn St, Webster, TX 77598 on Thursday.

Space Center Houston cannot provide transportation to any off-site tours or activities.


The safety of our participants and crew members is our utmost priority. We worked alongside experts to develop new SCUBA programming that follows protocol and maintains safety. We have taken measures to reconfigure the activity that will allow us to offer this activity while maintaining social distancing and health and safety practices.

Safety changes to SCUBA protocols:

  • We implemented all World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for personal sanitation and screening of staff.
  • We adjusted our disinfection protocols. We have switched our disinfection agent to Steramine™. Our medical oversight agency Divers Alert Network suggests Steramine™ for cleaning dive equipment. Steramine is an antimicrobial agent for use on hard non-porous surfaces against a wide range of pathogens including HIV-1 and CA-MRSA. The active ingredient in Steramine, quaternary ammonium, is on the EPA list of antimicrobial agents that meet their criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 novel coronavirus). Steramine has a long history of use that meets the public health and regulatory criteria of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). All gear will be disinfected immediately before each dive. All masks will be soaked in Steramine as well for no less than 10 minutes prior to being placed in chlorine.
    • During the SCUBA skills portion of the activity, students should remain six feet apart to social distancing standards.
  • Once the participants are underwater, we will resume team activities. The CDC reported on March 10 that “there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.” Additionally, NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory is still conducting training runs and have formalized best practices and safety measures for their divers. The team has been able to resume normal activities while underwater due to the chemicals used to treat the water.
  • If a student surfaces during a dive, an instructor who is wearing a regulator and mask will aid them until they are reached by the safety diver. The safety diver will be in a full-face snorkeling mask, which will allow them to closely assist and speak to students with a protective barrier.

Sanitation & Safety Practices


Drop-off procedures:

  • Check-in and Drop-off for ages 15-18 takes place 7:30 a.m. – 8 a.m.
  • Parents may park in the Mercury A parking lot directly across from Special Events Building. Please follow Space Center U drop-off signs to guide you to the check-in location.
  • Upon arrival, please do not exit your vehicle. Please make sure your child stays in the vehicle until the check-in process has been completed.
  • A trained instructor will come to your vehicle, while maintaining a six-foot distance, with a checklist of questions for the parent to verbally answer (touchless) concerning the wellness of their child. *Families that have traveled internationally should not attend any educational programming until they have completed a 14 day quarantine and practiced social distancing.
  • A valid ID must be shown.
  • Parents must indicate who will be picking up the student.
  • Parents will be given a hanging car tag with the participant’s name to be placed on the rear-view mirror for pick-up.
  • Once the checklist is completed, the student will exit the vehicle and be escorted to the hand-washing station on the lot entrance to begin their Space Center U Clean Room experience.


Pick-up procedures:

  • Monday through Wednesday, checkout/pickup takes place 4 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    • All participants must be picked up by 4:35 p.m. After-care is not provided.
  • Thursday checkout will take place at the Williams Pool at 15000 McConn St., Webster, TX 77598 after the SCUBA activities.
  • Friday checkout will be after graduation ceremonies 1:30 - 2 p.m.
  • The parking fee is waived when picking up your child from Space Center U.
  • Parents may park in the Mercury A parking lot at the Special Event Building. Please look for Space Center U signs to guide you to the parking area.
  • Parent hang-tags need to be properly displayed on the rear-view mirror during the pick-up process.
  • Upon arrival, please do not exit your vehicle. A trained instructor will come to the vehicle, while maintaining a six-foot distance to identify the student to be picked up.
  • Parent/guardians must provide valid identification when picking up their child from the Space Center Center U program.
  • An instructor will escort your child to the vehicle for departure.


If you arrive at the Special Event Building after 9 a.m. or before 3 p.m., please follow the procedures below to maintain safe social distancing while dropping off or picking up your child.

  • Please park your vehicle in the parking lot across from the Special Event Building.
  • Please call +1 281-289-4768 and one of our staff members will come out to your vehicle to start the check-in/out procedure.
  • Please maintain social distancing guidelines while interacting with staff for drop-off or pick-up procedures.
  • Please have your ID ready when picking up the Space Center U participant.


Participants must bring their own lunch each day. Food services will not be provided.

There is not a microwave available to participants.

Participants with food allergies will sit at an allergy free table to avoid food contamination.

Every participant will be provided with a daily snack in the afternoon.

Other Meals

All-inclusive hotels offer a hot breakfast. All other hotels selected by the group; breakfast is the responsibility of the participant(s).
Evening meals are the responsibility of the participant(s). There are several restaurants within walking distance of Space Center Houston, as well as most of the area hotels used for lodging.

What to bring


  • Participants must wear their own facemask each day.
  • Closed toed shoes
  • A lab coat, gloves, and shoe coverings will be provided to participants in the “clean room” environment.
  • 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 laptops, phones or other devices.
  • 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 launches will be placed on hold or be cancelled if inclement weather occurs.

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