The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Manned Spacecraft Center, where human spaceflight training, research, and flight control are conducted.
A Typical Day
They have a tram ride which covers the whole Space Centre campus, taking you to various departments of Space Research + Development. You visit the famous “Saturn V” – the largest rocket ever built by NASA – as well as the facility where they are experimenting with agriculture in space. You visit the classrooms + mock-up training facility for astronauts as well as a memorial garden for astronauts lost on missions. One of these missions is the infamous “Columbia” space mission where the space shuttle disintegrated as it re-entered earth’s atmosphere in 2003, killing all 7 crew members.
The tram tour is 90 minutes long + my personal favourite was visiting the historic Mission Control Centre! Located in Building 30 of the Johnson Space Center, this is the facility where NASA monitored nine Gemini + all Apollo missions, including the historic Apollo 11 trip to the moon. In fact, from this room the NASA team exercised full mission control of Apollo 11 from launch and liftoff at the Kennedy Space Center to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. I was stunned to learn there’s more technology in a modern watch than there was in this room in 1969! It’s also were famous lines such as “Houston, we have a problem”, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” + “Ground Control to Major Tom” were birthed. What an experience! I certainly had a moment when I laid eyes on the famous red rotary phone which was a direct line to the Pentagon.
Plan to spend at least 4 hours here. Entrance is around $24 for adults. Enjoy the Space Centre Plaza with a “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” display, gift shops, activities for the kids + an 18 minute film called “Human Destiny” on the history of NASA in the Starship Gallery. The film uses six and half million feet of NASA archival footage! It’s followed by a “lunar tour” where you can see + touch original space equipment from the famous moon landing + even actual moon rock! (this is one of only five lunar rocks in the world that you can touch) Follow the Space Centre on Twitter here.
Other Attractions at the Space Centre include:
+ See an original model of the first liquid-fuel rocket that Robert Goddard launched in 1926. Goddard, dubbed “The Moon Man,” was the first scientist to propose that a rocket could be launched using liquid propellants.
+ A piece of America’s first space station. In 1979, “Skylab” began falling back to Earth. America’s first space station was actually designed not to come back home. It did. This fragment was one of its structural beams that was recovered when Skylab wreckage washed ashore in Australia.
+ The Lunar Rover Trainer on display which is the actual vehicle that astronauts used to train for the Apollo 15-17 missions.
+ The actual suit Commander Pete Conrad wore on his historic mission as the third man to walk on the moon.
+ The latest news on the impossible mission of the Mars rover, Curiosity. Learn how it got to the red planet, what it’s doing there and all the things NASA is discovering about the fourth planet from the sun.
+ The famous “Kennedy Podium”. The Rice University podium from which Kennedy said, “I believe this nation should commit itself to the goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” It was on September 12, 1962, when he gave his historic “Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort,” otherwise known as the moment USA officially chose to go to the moon.
As you may or may not know, there’s been a lot of talk lately about sending people to Mars. This mission is called “Mars One” + its goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars. Mars One is a not-for-profit organization based in the Netherlands that has put forward plans to land the first humans onto Mars and establish a permanent human colony there by 2025. I found this article on it pretty humourous.