Johnson Space Center

Houston Travel Blog

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Up bright and early to be sure to get some breakfast before we are off to the Johnson Space Center. It’s nothing special, but waffles, juice, a hard-boiled egg and a small sweet roll. That should last until lunch. I wanted to get to the Space Center when they opened so we wouldn’t have to wait for a Tram ride. They say that it is the major attraction and soon gets a major line. We made through the line of people coming in because we had purchased our tickets through the hotel the night before, and at a discounted price too. So in we went and after stopping to take a few pictures going through the main building we ended up in line for the second tram of the day. Just a few minutes to wait. They run every 20 minutes.

The Tram ride goes around the Johnson Space center showing the large campus like setting and the many buildings which are all numbered from 1 to hmmm, I didn’t see any past about 45 or 50.

A very few had actual names on them, but most just a big number. And many had lots of bicycles parked in the racks just outside the doors. The tour guide explained that if a NASA employee had to go from one building to another during the day, rather than go get their car and drive around to the other building, then try to find a parking place (which she claimed were as hard to find as Easter eggs two days after Easter) they just grabbed a bike and rode it to the other building.

Our first stop was to go into a building and up to the third floor where the original Commander Center was located. It had been used all the way up until 1995. Looking at all of the modules and display controls it is hard to realize that not one keyboard, mouse or computer was used in the Commander Center.

They weren’t around in those days.

From there we went back to the Tram and drove to another building where full-sized mock-ups of the different units were all housed in a building and where the astronauts trained on how to use, and get familiar with them. That included the space shuttle and the large arm used to help deploy things in space. One of the odd things about that arm, which comes from Canada, and is thus called "The Canadian Arm" it is so strong that in space it can moved anything and everything and does a magnificent job, but here on earth it can’t even lift its own weight.

The next stop on the Tram ride was at the cluster of trees that have been planted in the memory of those lost in the space program. We spent a moment in silence.

Our last stop was at the Rocket building. Outside were two actual rockets from the program which had not been used. By the time they were ready to be used, bigger and better things had developed which made them obsolete. Inside the building was one rocket which is what has been used in recent launches. When you walked in the door and saw it laying there you felt so small. The tires on the trailers that it sat on were a full five feet tall. A few of my pictures have people standing and walking around the huge sections. It was really something to see.

Then back to the main part of the Space Center and through a few more exhibits.

One was a full-sized replica of a Shuttle Control cabin. There are more switches on the ceiling of a space shuttle than any plane in use today.

More than two thousand, is what I think I heard. And the astronauts have to be able to reach the right one in seconds if need be, so they have to know all of them like the back of their hands. And the heads-up display shows the data on the ground in front rather than on the glass of the shuttle, so that there is no need to change focus to see it.

I tried on two of the helmets that they had there, but I didn’t think they did anything for me. J

Next we went and saw a fifteen minute film about the program from the day that John F. Kennedy announced the beginning of the program until the most recent space shuttles and space station. Then we got to spend some time in the gallery, where several items were on display.

We ended our tour in the gift shop where we bought several items for our kids, and of course a spoon for Mom.

What a great adventure. So well worth the price!

Next we went to lunch and tried to connect with another TravBuddy. CarylC had given us her phone number and we finally got together with her for just a little while. It was a half-hour of good chatting and smiles. I wish it could have lasted longer.

eglp says:
I will have to go back to Texas...:)
Posted on: May 31, 2008
boxinbcn says:
I would love to see this some day! :-)
Posted on: May 28, 2008
FishAtHeart says:
My husband would love to visit this place! Definitely need to add this to our places to see SOON!
Posted on: May 02, 2008
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The old Command Center. Used thru …
The old Command Center. Used thru…
One of many models around the cent…
One of many models around the cen…
This building had mockups of all t…
This building had mockups of all …
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
More mockups
We stopped at this small grouping …
We stopped at this small grouping…
A couple of real rockets at the mi…
A couple of real rockets at the m…
A couple of real rockets at the mi…
A couple of real rockets at the m…
A couple of real rockets at the mi…
A couple of real rockets at the m…
Inside the building was only one m…
Inside the building was only one …
But it was huge!!
But it was huge!!
Can you get an idea how big this t…
Can you get an idea how big this …
Those tires are 5 feet tall!
Those tires are 5 feet tall!
Another shot of one of the missles…
Another shot of one of the missle…
Yet another shot of a missle outsi…
Yet another shot of a missle outs…
Back indoors and looking at the hu…
Back indoors and looking at the h…
Each section was separated.
Each section was separated.
This was a 1/3 scale mock up.
This was a 1/3 scale mock up.
Another shot of the lander
Another shot of the lander
In the shuttle mockup that we got …
In the shuttle mockup that we got…
There are more switches on the cei…
There are more switches on the ce…
Do they do anything for me?
Do they do anything for me?
I should have tried on the astrona…
I should have tried on the astron…
We actually touched moon rocks
Fi…
We actually touched moon rocks F…
And then I.
And then I.
There was even a robotic astronaut!
There was even a robotic astronaut!
In the gift shop we saw these nice…
In the gift shop we saw these nic…
Can you read her tee shirt?
Its…
Can you read her tee shirt? "It'…
Houston Sights & Attractions review
If you are at all interested in Space Flight - this is for you!
Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA’s manned spaceflight center has been around since 1961. This huge facility of 100 buildings covers an area of … read entire review
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photo by: vances