To my great excitement, today was the day that we were going to the NASA Space Centre. I’ve been looking forward to this all morning!
We made sure that we arrived when it opened at 9am. There was some confusion when the sat nav directed us to the employees entrance but the security guard was able to direct us to the correct entrance.
Once we’d arrived, the first thing that we did was the red tram tour. This took us round the grounds. Our guide pointed out the various buildings and explained what was going on inside. The highlight of the tour (for me) was the visit to the old mission control . History was made here and I was sitting here seeing it! Wow! Just wow! It was worth the eight flights of stairs that I had to climb to get there. I thought I was going to expire by the time I got to the top!!
Unfortunately we weren’t able to go into the current mission control because there were operations going on. It was only a floor below where we were but they were doing something with the International Space Station. Many people forget about the National Space Station and what goes on up there.
We stopped at Rocket Park and disembarked. Here you can see a full sized Saturn V rocket. It was amazing to see. You can’t imagine the sheer size of it until you are up close. There is also a display on one wall which describes all the Apollo missions. It is really sad when you read about the Challenger and Discovery disasters in which all crew members perished. The crews are remembered throughout the Space Centre, the loss is not dwelt upon but their contributions are celebrated. It is bittersweet and a few times during the day I felt really sad for the loss.
We caught a tram back from Rocket Park to the main building. On the way we stopped a grove where astronauts were remembered and trees planted in their memory. There is a special section for the crews of Challenger and Discovery. It was really touching. I kept an eye out in case Carl Sagan was remembered somewhere because of his massive contribution to the space program but I couldn’t see anything for him.
Once we’d finished the tram we had a wander round the exhibits and watched the Living in Space Show. I found that if you’d read the plaque next to the exhibits you knew quite a lot of the stuff that the presenter was telling you. She was quite entertaining but I wonder if the show was aimed at younger people. The presenter asked for a volunteer from the audience. I put hubby’s hand up but sadly he wasn’t picked. She choose a kid who spent the entire time messing about. I wondered if the presenter actually liked kids because she was getting quite irritated by the end of the segment!
We grabbed a quick hot dog lunch then headed to the gift shop. I got some bag patches and a gorgeous bomber jacket. It really was love at first sight! It was quite expensive but I haven’t made many other big purchases this holiday.
Once we’d done we headed for the 1pm talk on the International Space Station. The guy who was doing the talk was really charismatic. His enthusiasm for the subject was catching. There were a few young children in the audience who were making a lot of noise. I don’t understand why people take really young children into this kind of lectures because they are quite high level and children tend to get bored. The presenter was happy to answer questions at the end of the short lecture. Hubby asked him where he though the space programme would be now if funding was the same as it was in the 60s and I asked him about the current interest level for space travel. He didn’t think that there was much interest from the general public which was a shame. I thought that the revamped Cosmos would have reignited some interest in the space program.
After the talk we went to the Starship Gallery and Destiny Theatre where we saw a short film and lots of exhibits. The moon fragments are behind a bank vault type door, probably because they are considered to be priceless. It was very interesting and I got lots of pictures!
We also saw a couple more films. Curiosity on Mars, which was quite technical and was presented by the charismatic guy. The second film was Journey to Space which was shown on the Space Centre Theatre on the massive IMAX style screen.
As a general note, the day was simply amazing. The enthusiasm that the employees show for their jobs really shines through and you can see that they really believe in what NASA are doing. If I lived in Houston I’d definitely volunteer here. What a wonderful way to spend your time!!
Dinner was at Red Lobster. I had a combination platter which was delicious. The crab legs caused me a few problems but I got there in the end!!