NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
Even though I'm not huge into space stuff, I found this quite interesting. You never really grasp how incredibly huge some of the rockets, space crafts are until you see them in person. And we saw the control room....and got to tour through a building where they were in the process of making something. Interesting!!
On display is a Mercury Redstone spacecraft-booster combination which propelled the first two American astronauts (Alan Shepard and Virgil "Gus" Grissom) into space in 1961.
The largest rocket there is the Saturn V rocket which was used in the Apollo Program and also was used to propel the Skylab space station into earth orbit in 1973.
Photo is of 'Apollo Saturn V'
Rocket Park is right at the entrance to the Centre and clearly visible from Nasa Road. You used to be able to drive up and walk around yourself free of charge between 7.00a.m. and 6.00p.m. but after 9/11, I don't think you can do that now.
The photo i sof 'Little-Joe'.
Rocket Park was closed to the public following the 9/11 attack. Later in 2002, it was reopened with strict guidelines.
Your tram will bring you to the park but your guide will enforce the rules of remaining on the footpaths only and no venturing onto the grass areas for photos.
Photo is of Apollo Saturn V.
The centre manages the development, testing, production and delivery of all U.S. human spacecraft, and all human spacecraft-related functions. This includes the life support systems; power systems; crew equipment; electrical power generation and distribution; guidance, navigation and control, cooling systems, structures, flight software, robotics, and spacesuits and spacewalking equipment.
A glassed walkway takes you across all the various pieces of equipment which is explained to you in about 3 stages.
Probably the most spectacular part of my visit to Houston, this is totally FREE!! If you are in the area and don't have too much time or don't want to pay 20$ for a visit of the Space Center, this is defintely a must see!!
You first have to pass through a small security check and you may then park your car close to the park.
You can then walk along this Saturn V rocket, this is the kind of rocket that has sent the Apollo missions to the Moon. Try to imagine the fury of the fire out of its huge reactors...
This was the main goal of my visit to Houston. This is the official visitor center of the NASA's Johnson Space Center, the NASA's center from where the different Apollo missions were controlled.
I have spent there an afternoon, but this was slightly too short, count at least a day if you want to see everything.
The different exhibits are mainly an illustrated story of the spatial conquest. Mostly turned to the past (Apollo,...), there is also some parts about the present (ISS) and the future programs (settlement on the Moon, March exploration,...).
This picture, for example, shows the project of an emergency shuttle for an orbital station.
The visit is quite interesting, children will love it, there are plenty of experiences and animations dedicated to them. I was however slightly deceived, I was expecting something more technical or scientific but I guess all visitors are not engineer...
This is not really in the center of Houston but some 50 miles south of it.
Don't miss the tram tour, this is one of the most interesting activities.
I have been able to see the actual astronaut training facilities and the historical Command Center from where the Apollo missions were controlled.
This is amazing to realise they have been able to send people to the moon with such primitive technologies (your actual PC is way more powerfull than the "supercomputer" that was controlling everything at that time)
Apparently the different tours don't always have the same destinations, it could eventually be interesting to do several of them (but count one hour for each)
Yipeee, I'm touching the moon ;-) An example amongst the different attractions of the center is this tiny moon part visitor can touch...
I haven't learned anything new but well, now I can say I've been in contact with the moon ;-)
For 4.55$ more, you can get a pre-programmed MP3 player. When walking through the different exhibits, you will see at some place the number of the track you have to play. You would then hear an explanation about what you see and quite often also some comments from the real astronauts.
To make your own idea, you can listen to a sample of these tracks from the "What's new section" on the website (21/12/2003).
Of course, this is some more money but this is definitely worth it !!
This is far from being a free visit !! Count 17.95$ per adult and 13.95$ per children and don't forget to add 4$ for the parking...
Now an easy way to get a 2$ discount per head is to print the voucher that is available from the website:
There is even a more subtle way to spare money. However, for some reasons, I haven't seen any mention of it anywhere but in front of the intrance desk, once the parking had already been paid!
For 19.95$ (or 74.95$ for a family), you can become a member.
What does that mean?
- that includes the intrance (17.95$ -2$ with voucher)
- free parking (4$)
So far, it could sound absolutely the same price but then you also have...
FREE ADMISSION FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR !!!
I bet it could be worth to call 281-244-2105 for some more information!!
The tours depart every 40 minutes and take around 90 mins. You will have to have a obligatory photo taken before you even enter the queue to board the tram. This is available at the end of your tour if you want it. It is actually a photo of yourself in two 5 x 7 photos as well as in a key holder for $15.00.
The guide we had was a bit hard going. He had worked at Nasa for many many years and was at retiring age (or past it). His documentary was laboured at times from being puffed out after climbing stairs at various stopping points. You felt like cranking him up. A smile now and then wouldn't have hurt either.
The first word spoken from the moon was "Houston..." What would a trip to "Space City" be without a tour of NASA's Johnson Space Center and Mission Control?
This is the headquarters of the country's manned space flight program and the US branch of the International Space Station, and also where all the country's astronauts are trained. The nation's hub of manned space flight and everything that goes into it is right here.
NASA's JSC is on the outskirts of Houston in the southeast metro area of Clear Lake.
Though shuttles are no longer launched from Johnson the center plays an important part in todays space exploration. Astronauts as well as other international space explorers train at Johnson. Mission Control for all shuttle flights is run out of Johnson. The center has a great museum detailing the history and the future of human space flight.
You will see the Centers old Mission Control Center (MCC) which in its day was the operational hub of every American human space mission since Gemini IV. A lot of the old equipment is still there but there is a more modern and uptodate centre elsewhere now which manages all activity onboard the space station and instructs all space shuttle missions which includes station assembly flights and servicing the Hubble Space Telescope.