Johnson Space Center (Space Center Houston) – Houston, TX

Meandering Life Rating:  [usr 5]

Earlier in our trip we visited the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral so we HAD to go to the Johnson Space Center in Houston.   They were definitely two different experiences.  The Kennedy Space Center centers around rockets and shuttles and where they are assembled and launched.  The Houston Space Center centers on Mission Control and astronaut training (although it does have a shuttle replica and a Saturn V rocket).    If we were to compare the two, we believed the Kennedy Space Center was better overall, but both were amazing.   The Johnson Space Center was awesome in its own right and we would definitely recommend it!  Here are a few highlights of our trip to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

NASA Tram Tour

If you go to the Johnson Space Center, the tram tour is a MUST!  It is a tour around the facility not generally open to the public.  Many of the stops are still active and you can see employees working!  Here are some of the items you will see on Johnson Space Center NASA Tram tour.

Houston Mission Control

Historic Mission control – This is the facility where NASA monitored nine Gemini and all Apollo lunar missions.  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  Absolutely amazing!  We sat in the viewing area of mission control.  These are the same seats former US Presidents, family members of astronauts and famous actors sat as they experienced mission control in action.  So much NASA history in that room.  I can’t express the experience in words.  I was blown away.  Then, a few days after we went to the Space Center, we watched the movie Armageddon.  The mission control we saw at the Johnson Space Center was the the same mission control they used in the movie!

Astronaut Training Facility

Astronaut training facility – This stop was a great experience too.  You can observe the area where astronauts train on mock shuttles and see various rover devices they are in the process of building/designing.  They also have Robonaut, the future of robotics in space!

Saturn V Rocket – Just like the Kennedy Space Center, the final stop in the tram tour at the Johnson Space Center is the Saturn V rocket facility.

Collection of Space Suits

Spaces suit on display

The Johnson Space Center houses the most extensive collection of differing space suits in the world.

Independence Plaza

Independence Plaza houses a shuttle replica mounted on top of the historic shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905.  It is the only location in the world where the public is allowed inside both the shuttle and the plane.  Interesting to see the inside, but not as cool just because it was never used in spaceflight.

Lunar Sample Vault

The Apollo missions brought many lunar samples to Earth.  The Johnson Space Center is home to the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility.  The lunar vault at the Space Center is a clean room with lunar material and the same instruments used to examine the lunar samples.  It is the largest display of moon rocks in the world.  There is a lunar rock sample at the Space Center the public can touch.  I believe it said it was one of three samples in the US that can be touched by the public.  A second sample is at the Kennedy Space Center (which we touched) and I believe the third sample is in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. When we get out there, we will be 3 for 3!

Overall, the Johnson Space Center (Space Center Houston) was definitely worth the admission price and we would recommend it if you are ever in the area!

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