Hi my lovely readers!
Did you ever dream of being an astronaut or wanted to feel like one? Or are you just curious how life in outer space is like?
If the answer is yes, a day out in Space Center Houston in Texas will take you as close to the stars as possible from earth. It is a day out that will inspire every single person, young and old alike.
If you are in Texas, it is one of those must see attractions that you should not miss.
Here is a glimpse of what you can expect from your visit to this awe-inspiring and fabulous center of science, knowledge, inspiration and dreams.
The Starship Gallery showcases several spacecrafts that were used for past missions and other exciting objects and treasures such as the John F. Kennedy’s Podium, Skylab, the Lunar Roving Vehicle, the Lunar Module LTA-8, Launch and Entry Suits and rocks from the moon.
In the Lunar Vault you even get the chance to touch a piece of the moon! How cool is that?
The moon rocks are kept in a pure nitrogen environment so they do not deteriorate, do not get contaminated and can be preserved. Space Center Houston has the largest collection of moon rocks on display to the public in the world.
One of the spacecrafts on display is the actual flown Gemini V capsule. It was designed to accommodate two astronauts and is named after the star constellation Gemini aka Twins.
This programme was important to determine how long fuel cells would last to get to the moon, which took around eight days. Remember, there was a race to the moon between the USA and Russia, it was the time of the Cold War.
Fun fact: The astronaut Conrad dubbed the mission “eight days in a garbage can,” as the quarters were super tight and cramped in the capsule.
The Astronaut Gallery has a vast collection of different astronaut spacesuits and clothes the astronauts have to wear for their flights, trainings and of course missions.
The gallery also showcases how the spacesuits have changed and evolved over time from early bulky models to the once we know today.
One of the many highlights and unique experiences offered by the Space Center Houston is being able to see the replica of the shuttle Independence, sitting on top and attached to the original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft in Independence Plaza.
The shuttle and aircraft are the first things that visitors see when they get to Houston Space Center. The shuttle is open and visitors can go inside and explore several exhibitions dedicated to the shuttle era and how it impacted past and future missions.
Other exhibits focus on life onboard and others explore different career paths in science, engineering and so on. There is also an orbiter access arm on site that astronauts used to get to the shuttle.
Fun fact: NASA 905 transported space shuttles 223 times
This exhibition is fully dedicated to anything Mars related.
It covers topics such as travelling to Mars, what life may look like and how humans can survive on the red planet. It also covers topics on what Mars missions aim to achieve and what they can teach us about our own planet.
As part of the exhibition, visitors are also able to touch a rock that actually comes from Mars and are able to view other rare meteorites.
Visitors can moreover take part in a simulation inside the Orion capsule to experience (touch, hear and see) what travelling to Mars will be like for the first astronauts to visit the red planet in the future.
One of the fascinating and most interesting parts of the exhibition, in my eyes, is dedicated to growing food in space. Astronauts travelling to Mars need to food ration and supplies may run low, hence they are looking into growing food in space, how this can be achieved, what growing food in space may look like.
NASA TRAM TOUR
One of the other highlights of visiting the Space Center is taking the Nasa Tram Tour. This tour will take you to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) where history was and still is made today.
Make sure you have and make enough time to get on this tour. This is not one to be missed.
The Johnson Space Center serves as the base and home for the astronaut’s training grounds, astronaut corps, International Space Station mission operations and Mission Control Center. Important missions, programs and future space innovations are managed and invented here.
The tour takes visitors to many historic JSC locations and artefacts. The first stop of the tour is Rocket Park. Here you can see and admire different types of rockets including the Saturn V rocket, the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket ever used for space exploration. Saturn V were mainly used during the Apollo program, where man were send to the moon. There are only three left in the world.
The tour will continue to the Astronaut Training Facility. Here you can get a glimpse of what astronauts have to do to become certified astronauts and what training they have to complete to prepare for future missions. Also, it is here where the next space exploration vehicles are developed.
The highlight of the tour, at least it was for me, must be a stop at mission control. Visitors get to see the historic mission control center from where the first moon landing was lead and overlooked. You get to sit in the chairs that spectators were in and of course everyone had to say the famous phrase “Houston, we have a problem”.
The second stop is a visit to the new and improved mission control center that is currently used for monitoring missions and what is happening on the ISS. Unfortunately, no one was allowed to take any pictures inside the current mission control building not to leek out any secrets.
FILMS AND LIVE PRESENTATIONS
The Space Center is very interactive and several presentation, films, live talks and Q&A sessions will take place during the day to enhance the visitor experience.
I had the chance to listen to a presentation of a real astronaut. It was very interesting to learn about his experience and I left very inspired.
Make sure to check where and when the presentations and films take place and start at the beginning of your day as you will not want to miss them.
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION GALLERY
Another fascinating and super interesting exhibition is about the International Space Station or better known as ISS, the largest structure ever built in space and orbiting above our planet at 27,354 km per hour.
The main mission of the ISS is to gather information and conduct research. The exhibit highlights some projects the crew on the ISS is working on, showcases some artifacts from the space station and explores technologies and research techniques used for research purposes.
One of the research projects that just intrigued me and got me so excited and inspired was about bacteria surviving in outer space. We always hear and learn that nothing can survive in space, but some bacteria have been discovered that can survive in these harsh conditions. They can survive ultraviolet radiation, extreme temperature fluctuations and so on. Findings will have an impact on the awareness on planetary protection in relation to the atmosphere for example.
Other stories were about cancer treatments. I mean, who would think that cancer may be treated one day as a result of space exploration? I think the idea if this possibly happening is major.
- Opening times: Open daily normally from 10 am – 5 pm, but times can vary depending on season
- Admission: Adults (ages 12+ years) $29.95, Kids (ages 4 – 11 years) $24.95, Children (ages 3 years and younger) Free, Seniors (ages 65+ years) $27.95
- For more information please visit: Space Center Houston
- How to get there: By car and taxi – 1601 NASA Pkwy, Houston, Texas, USA, 77058. By Bus – Busses 246 and 249 through the Park & Ride scheme take you all the way to the Space Center if you do not have a car and are looking for a cheaper alternative.
FINAL THOUGHTS …
What can I say, Space Center Houston is AWESOME!
I felt like a little child again as I was so excited to find out more about space, learn about different missions and touch a piece of the moon.
The Space Center is super interactive, very engaging and a true place for the imagination. I left so inspired, I have not felt like that for a long time.
You can easily spend an entire day at the Space Center if you are a space geek like me. Hence, come as early as possible if you want to see everything.
The Space Center also offers extra events and activities such as VIP/behind the scenes tours or eating lunch with an astronaut. So, there is more to do to enhance your visit if you or your kids are into that sort of thing, which I think is a great opportunity.
It is a MUST SEE attraction when you are in Texas! If it was here in the UK, I would go back a few times at least. It was one of my favourite attractions and one that still gets me super excited when I talk about it.