Both the museum and the camp were forced to temporarily close back in March due to the pandemic, and the camp unfortunately (but understandably) suffered from low attendance when it reopened in late June. That led to a significant decrease in revenue, forcing the center to lay off full-time employees and preventing it from hiring seasonal personnel.
On the campaign page, officials explained:
“With limited admission from international students and school groups this fall and winter, we’re forced to close our weeklong camp programs again until April 2021. These ongoing challenges have meant a devastating loss of two-thirds of our revenue.”
As Space notes, the rocket center typically generates $120 million in annual revenue for Alabama, so its loss is also a massive loss for the state. Center officials said they’ve “exhausted all funding possibilities” at this point and have no choice but to turn to the public for help. They need the $1.5 million c or else the center and the camp will have to shut down in October.
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