Houston: Johnson Space Center

The place were the american space conquest began, Houston space center is situated on the NASA road. It is really a city on itself. The entrance is at NASA Johnson space center. It costs 30 dollars with an audioguide and 19 without, which seems quite expensive but believe me, you won’t regret it. There ar two main parts to visit, a tram tour around the center and the museum. The train leave quite regulary, just think to check the hours not to miss it.

Tram tour

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USA2016-8

The visit of the center last 90 minutes. It is the main attraction. There you will visite the real building where people at NASA are working. The first stop will take you to an iconic place of NASA, Mission Control. It is the modern control room of NASA. Think about the room you see in the movie where people are stressed because of some technical problems, with a lot of screens and computer, well this is it, you are there… well sort of , you are behind a glass panel with a view on the room. It is understandable because people might work there at the same time. If you are lucky like me you will see them in action. To take an example, whe, I was there people were working on simulation about mars’ travels. We even had someone switch on a TV to have a live retransmission from ISS camera.

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USA2016-14

The second stop is the building where they keep all the mock up of modules and vehicules. There you will find all the modules of the ISS a scale 1, a lot of vehicule including a Soyouz and the new Orion. There is also a robotic arm like the one they use to catch shuttle in the ISS. It it also a place where they develop Robonaut, a humanoid robot who will be use to help astronauts in their complex tasks. Like in misson control, you will be behind a glass panel but in a long corridor a little bit above the installion. Which gives you privileged point of view.

The last stop will take you to rocket park. In this building you will see a real Saturn V rocket. Once again this is not a mock up and this rocket in front of you went in space. And if one day, men must go to the moon, there is a high chance the same launcher will be used. It is the biggest rocket ever made. You feel very small walking all along it and thinking that most of this rocket is a fuel container, it opens your eyes about the danger and the toroughness of the operation.
Know that if you are lucky you can also visit the old historic mission control. It was not my case. Know that because of the disponibility of the different place you might not be shown all the locations. Feel free to ask your question to the guides they will be very free and happy to answer to them..

The museum

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USA2016-25

The second part of the center is a museum about the space conquest. You will find all about the american history about this adventure, since the first sattelite send until today and tomorrow. There are a lot of activities for kids, from video games to booth to understand physic’s laws, also playful presentations adapted to them. A room will show you all the different space suit used from the first to the one they will use tomorrow. Another room have a collection of moon rocks to be seen and even one to be touch with your bare hands. There are only five place in the world when you can do it. Don’t miss your chance. Another room is about the life in space stations.Going outside on the Independance plaza, you be face to face with a shuttle mounted on a plane. You can visit the inside of both of them. They will explain to you some of the basics about landing and taking off of a shuttle. Finally if you are hungry you can still eat at the restaurant called the zero G inside the museum. It is a small cantina but quite pricey. If you plan you trip there very, the museu have an opportunity to have lunch with an astronaut. I was not able to do it because of a late arrival but it should definitely worth it. At the end of your visit you should make a last stop to buy souvenirs at the shop. You can even buy some deshydrated astronaut food. Something needed to try once if you are think of going in space one day.

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