I don’t know about you but the fact that humans have been to the moon still fascinates me till this day. Not to mention there are astronauts currently living on the International Space Station, sacrificing their lives in the name of science. It’s extraordinary what the human race has accomplished in terms of Aerospace and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Last year I was fortunate enough to spend Christmas in Houston with family friends. They offered to take my family and I to tour the Johnson Space Center insisting it’s a must see for anyone visiting Houston. Of course we gladly accepted, how could we pass up such an awesome opportunity? For those of you who don’t know, Houston is home to the Mission Control Center which manages the space missions of the United States.
We set off in the early morning and got there just as they were opening the doors. Tickets cost 20.95 USD for adults and 15.95 USD for children. We started with the tram tour which is approximately 90 minutes long and takes you to see the Saturn V rocket, outdoor rocket park, and astronaut training facility. Let me tell you, I’ve never felt so small standing next to something than I did standing next to the Saturn V rocket – it’s huge! It’s on display in a warehouse and all along the walls of the warehouse were banners with quotes from astronauts, most of them were really moving.
After marveling at the rocket, we headed to our next stop: the astronaut training facility. In here were several machines and equipment set up for astronauts to train with. All astronauts are expected to undergo years of rigorous training before they are permitted to fly into space and possibly live on the International Space Station (Fun fact: astronauts are trained to walk in space in a swimming pool to feel a gravity-free sensation.)
Having seen the Saturn V rocket and astronaut training facility, we headed back to the main visitor center where there were plenty of other things to do. There was a life-size model of part of a space shuttle on display; visitors can go inside and see what the interior of a space shuttle looks like. We also had access to the Starship Gallery which houses several moon rocks and equipment used by astronauts on the moon. There are a number of interactive activities throughout the center as well, not just for kids but adults alike. One thing I loved to do was step on a scale that tells you how much you would weigh on different planets.
In addition, there are two theatres at the center – one is like a cinema where visitors can view a space related movie, and another is an open-air theatre where a live presentation is given about what it’s like to live in space. We opted to skip the movie and see the presentation instead which went on for about 30 minutes. The presenter was super funny and very engaging with the audience. An audience member was chosen to demonstrate the day-to-day activities of astronauts living in space, such as showering, sleeping, and eating (Fun fact: In order to save water when in space, astronaut urine is filtered and used as drinking water!)
Our last stop was the gift shop and we spent a good 30 minutes in here alone. Like many gift shops, most items were expensive so my siblings and I just chose one item each. My brother got a T-shirt, I opted for a book and my sister a key chain. At the checkout counter we spotted astronaut food for sale and grabbed some to take back home for our friends as we thought it’d make a cool and unique gift.
Verdict: Incredible. I’m so glad I got to visit this center and highly recommend it for families. It’s a great education experience for kids and adults alike, especially science lovers.
Have you been to the Johnson Space Center? What did you think?