NASA Houston has been home to the Mission Control Center since the Gemini IV program in 1964. It is also home to the training camp for astronauts, who here prepare to face long periods of stay in space.
Perfect for history buffs and science buffs, the Johnson Space Center offers the chance to tour the space base and museum, which contains tons of artifacts, vehicles, and clothing. Here you will be able to see the command center that managed the missions to the moon, touch some fragments of it, admire the progress of science, and discover what the future holds for us.
It is a perfect attraction for the whole family, where you can spend a day feeling like a space explorer.
The two most popular attractions are the guided tour of the complex, and a visit to the replica shuttle Independence.
The Johnson Space Center tour will take you inside the space station, visiting places that have made and are making history. As this is a functioning government building, the visit takes place on a tourist tram, and only some pavilions are accessible to the public.
You can visit the Mission Control Center, from here the Gemini and Apollo programs were directed, including Apollo 11, which saw man land on the moon for the first time. Today it is no longer operational, and everything has been left as it was. Computers and means that today seem prehistoric to us, and which nevertheless have allowed one of the greatest conquests of humanity. A short film about the moon landing is also shown.
You can also visit the astronaut training facility, the astronaut training camp as well as a research and development center. For safety reasons, and not to disturb the workers, it is possible to visit it only from a closed and elevated walkway. You will see some training modules, gravity test pods, rovers and humanoid robots. Equipment is constantly changing as new technologies are invented.
A great place to discover is Rocket Park, an outdoor area where several rockets used in the history of space programs are installed. The centerpiece is one of the three Saturn rockets that still exist, installed in a pavilion and can be visited up close. On the walls are some panels bearing the most famous quotes of the astronauts, including the famous ‘Houston, we have a problem.’
In addition, there are always temporary exhibitions at the Johnson Space Center which change according to the different missions going on.
The area dedicated to the discovery of the Red Planet explains how NASA is planning the project, whose ultimate goal is to be able to bring men to the Red Planet.
It is an interactive exhibition with dioramas and models illustrating the characteristics of Mars. There are even some fragments of the planet, a rock and some meteorites.
You will see how researchers are tackling major issues related to travel and stay on the planet, such as the development of suits that protect against radiation.
Another challenge will be to give astronauts the opportunity to grow food on Mars, exactly like in the film The Martian with Matt Damon.
In my opinion, the NASA center is one of the most interesting places you can visit in Texas and it is really something one must do to feel ‘connected’ to the future, to outer space, to science and to our universe.