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Space Center Houston is out-of-this-world destination

NASA tours offer look at spacecraft, mission control center in Houston.
by Matthew Price Published: October 27, 2013

— Space travel of the past, present and possible future can be explored at Johnson Space Center.

Space Center Houston is the visitor center for NASA's Johnson Space Center. As guests enter the center's parking lot, they see a full-size space shuttle replica, named the “Independence” at an October event.

In 2015, the “Independence” exhibit will get even bigger. NASA transferred ownership of the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA-905) to Space Center Houston, which will couple it with the Independence to make a $12 million complex including the airplane and the shuttle model.

The past

Of course, the Houston space center already is the site of many of mankind's space triumphs. Visitors can go to the mission control site where engineers talked to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969.

The Johnson Space Center houses an actual Saturn V rocket, the same type that took astronauts to the moon. This Saturn V is made of stages that were intended for future flights had the moon launches continued. The Saturn V on display at Johnson Space Center is the only Saturn V display made entirely of components that were intended for space flight.

The museum at Space Center Houston is a treasure trove of real-life space artifacts, including Gordon Cooper's Freedom 7 capsule, the America module that landed on the moon, and priceless moon rocks, one of which museum visitors are allowed to touch.

A life-size mock-up of Skylab allows visitors to walk through the early space workstation. Skylab, which orbited Earth from 1973 to 1979, was a predecessor of the current International Space Station.

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by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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