Peek behind the curtain of NASA Johnson Space Center with a trip to Space Center Houston…
In all the triumphs and tragedies of American spaceflight, there was one place at the center of it all… one place where critical decisions were made to help Neil Armstrong take his famous first step, to bring Apollo 13 back home safely, and to tackle not only the moon, but the planets beyond. It’s NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, and it’s a destination for any lover of NASA, space, and human ingenuity.
Today, visitors are more than welcome to tour Johnson Space Center via Space Center Houston, a huge, interactive complex of space artifacts, exhibits, and attractions.
As the gateway to NASA Johnson Space Center, Space Center Houston’s most popular attraction is, of course, the tram tours through Johnson Space Center.
Once aboard the tram, guests enjoy a narrated tour through the sprawling JSC campus with stops at multiple attractions. First on the list is Mission Control Center where flight controllers actively monitor the International Space Station.
Unfortunately for us, the Historic Mission Control, where many of the most famous missions were directed including Apollo 11 and Apollo 13, is currently being renovated. Good news is if you visit in 2019, it’ll be beautifully renovated and set up to show you a mock landing of Apollo 11’s Eagle on the moon. (On the 50th anniversary nonetheless!)
After a little stop at Mission Control, it’s off to the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility where you’ll see all sorts of former and current prototypes for space exploration.
As your tram takes you around the 1,600+ acre campus, you’ll see all sorts of other important NASA buildings including the main headquarters where NASAs big whigs are planning our next adventures into the heavens.
Finally, your tour ends at the Rocket Park where you’ll come face to face with the most powerful machine ever devised by man- the Saturn V rocket. If you’ve never seen a Saturn V, it’s worth the price of admission alone. Imagining 3 brave men sitting on top of of one of these never ceases to blow us away.
Back at Space Center Houston
You’ll probably want to make tracks toward the Starship Gallery where most of the ultra-cool artifacts are located. Take a peek inside the Lunar vault and even touch a moon rock or two before poking your head into the Skylab trainer. You’ll also want to take a few minutes to grab pictures of the Apollo 17, Mercury 9, and Gemini V capsules.
The Starship Gallery finally leads you to the spot you’ve probably had your eyes on since you parked outside… It’s Independence Plaza presented by Boeing. Here you’ll find the famous NASA 905 shuttle carrier with a space shuttle replica mounted on top, just as the real shuttles were time and time again for testing and transport.
Visitors are welcome to explore both the airplane and the shuttle replica and each is filled with fascinating displays, space suits, and mockups.
From your tour of the plane and shuttle, it’s back inside Space Center Houston for any of their live education events, hands-on exhibits, or even a quick bite to eat in their Zero-G Diner.
Whether you’re bringing the entire family of all ages or you’re just an adult NASA geek like us, you’ll have a great time at Space Center Houston. Depending on your level of interest, plan on spending at least 1/2 a day here, and, of course, don’t leave without a trip to the gift shop.
1601 NASA Pkwy