HOUSTON — 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.
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.
An exhibit at Space Center Houston shows how astronauts live and work aboard the International Space Station. This interactive exhibit opened in April.
A program takes viewers through a day in the life of an astronaut on the station, as one lucky attendee gets to walk through the experience. The stage is designed to resemble the interior of a space station module, and guests see how astronauts eat, sleep and work, all of which take much more precision than doing the same things on Earth.
The 3000-square-foot display features suits, equipment and more from the International Space Station.
The space center took a look at the future with the July 31 opening of the “Galileo” exhibit. The exhibit features a restored shuttlecraft prop from the original “Star Trek” series, which imagined what mankind's future in the stars might be.
In addition to the space-themed exhibits, Space Center Houston features an expansive gift shop and interactive exhibits, games and challenges.
During the trip, our party stayed at Four Seasons Hotel Houston, located downtown, about 30 minutes from the space center.
Accommodations paid by Four Seasons Hotel Houston.