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A close-up encounter with space

Touch a piece of moon rock, see an astronaut in training, or participate in a simulated rocket launch: experience the universe from up close at the Space Center Houston. Take a look behind the scenes of the NASA Space Agency and learn about all aspects of a space mission.

The official visitors’ centre of the Johnson Space Center is one of the city’s biggest attractions. Many of the Space Center attractions are geared towards children but adults certainly won’t be bored as there is plenty to fill an entire day.

Space Shuttle in the Space Center Houston
Space Shuttle in the Space Center Houston

Houston

The old Mission Control

‘Houston, we’ve had a problem’

It is easy to forget that you are not in a museum. Although it offers plenty of visitor attractions, the NASA building is a working facility. For Mission Control, which monitors all American space missions, it is business as usual. Most people have some idea of what happens here, even if only from seeing the 1995 movie ‘Apollo 13’ (with Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon) about the legendary moon mission that had to be aborted. The famous saying ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem’ is from that Apollo space mission in 1970 and refers to this mission control centre. Speaking of history, you may also visit the area where contact was made with the Apollo 11 astronauts who were the first to set foot on the moon on 20 July 1969. There have been some nerve-racking moments in here.

Lunch with an astronaut

Every week visitors have the opportunity to meet a real astronaut at the Space Center and enjoy a ‘cosmic’ lunch. Arrive early to share a table with someone who has travelled into space. How does being in space affect the body, how exciting is the launch, what does astronaut food taste like and what is it like to be weightless? There is plenty of time to ask all your questions.

The Saturn V

Enormous rockets

Don’t forget to visit the Saturn V in the Rocket Park; visitors are dwarfed by the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. The colossus that pushed the Apollo missions beyond the earth’s atmosphere is as tall as a 36-storey building. This is one of the 3 remaining Saturn rockets. Together these rockets were essential to fulfil NASA’s greatest accomplishments, including the ‘one giant leap for mankind' moon landing.

Photo credits

  • The old Mission Control: The Austinot, Flickr
  • The Saturn V: Sam Wise, Flickr