Apple Chronicles: Space Center Houston

I can’t really say that my first six days in Houston were dull—in fact, it’s anything but as we got to try new things practically every day.  But visiting Space Center Houston trumped all the previous activities we did so far.

This sight will greet you upon arriving at Space Center Houston.

This is part of a series

Visiting the Space Center is probably the only itinerary that I had in mind long before arriving in Houston.  I’ve always been fascinated by space and being an astronaut is the first aspiration I had when I was little, so this visit is probably the closest I could get to actual astronaut-stuff and NASA.

The entrance to the facility where you can also get your tickets.

Space Center Houston is some distance away from Downtown but surprisingly, it’s just a bus ride away!  But since I was with friends from the office, we took an Uber to get there.  It’s much more expensive that taking the bus, but it’s arguably faster because it’s non-stop.  We went to the Space Center from Dowtown Houston after lunch without realizing that it closes at 5PM (then).  We arrived less than two hours before closing so there were no more tram tours.  With little time on our hands, we strategized on how to go about our tour.

This greeted us upon entry… so many places to see, so little time!

We started with looking at the displays around the floor.  Some of them are actual memorabilia from actual missions and some of them are interactive.  The interactions help visitors understand some of the concepts that we took for granted on earth but are challenging in space.

These seats don’t look bad, but then again I haven’t tried sitting in them!
Space suits (did not read why they were these colors).
That on the left is the toilet.  Doing your business on earth is a no brainer, but in space it’s science!
This is one of the interactive displays that I really liked.  You crank the handle to generate pressure to launch your rocket!
And this one helps visitors understand the practical differences on weight of gravity between Earth and Mars.

Next, we watched a documentary being played on the theater.  As much as we’d like to stay long, we we’re pressed for time so we continued with the next displays.

If I had more time I probably would have remembered more of what we watched.
The theater leads into this space where a lot of interesting items are on display.
I’m not sure if this is a replica or the real thing but it gives you an idea on how cramped these capsules are.
You can even take a peek inside to appreciate how the astronauts were able to work in such small space!
Here’s the moon buggy, not sure if it’s “the” moon buggy.

One display got us a little worked up and that’s the one where you can touch an actual rock from the moon!

Touch an actual moon rock?!  For real?!
Unfortunately, I think too many people had already touched this rock that now, it’s as smooth as a tile.

Afterwards, we continued exploring the displays until we reached this one that looked like a replica of space stations.

More displays to look at.
More space rocks.
The displays are life-size and some may even startle you.
I entered this setup which I assumed is how space modules look like in space.
It is pretty spacious inside but the weird part is not having the concept of an “up” or “down.”
Here’s another moon rock.
And this one came from somewhere in space.

We also watched a live show that explains, in a very entertaining way, what it’s like to be an astronaut in space.

The host got a volunteer to help explain the concepts.

And finally, we went outside to go inside the space shuttle.

A picture of a space shuttle being transported to NASA Johnson Space Center with the skyline of Houston in the background.

As per recommendation, we started at the top, at the space shuttle itself.  This space shuttle is a replica but the plane it’s riding on is the actual plane that brings space shuttles like this one to places.

Hello there!
The control panel of the space shuttle as it would look like on the real thing.
And then there’s the cargo bay.

From the top level, I went down one level at a time until I got inside the plane level.  It’s obviously much more spacious than the space shuttle and it has a lot more interesting displays in it.

I guess these were this plane’s service records.
Since it’s carrying a heavy load on the outside, some engineering work had to be done to make it stable.
The passengers though have some really nice seats, even by today’s standards.
What’s not needed were removed to reduce weight.
Some explanation of things that they did with the plane to support its cargo.
Here’s another interactive display that you may play with.
There’s also a widow that let’s you look at the cargo area below.
Some quotable quotes…

We also got to try some astronaut food!

Astronaut food comes in different shapes and flavors.
This one is the vanilla ice cream sandwich which really takes like one, without the brain freeze!

Coming out on the rear exit of the plane, you still have the opportunity to enjoy these amazing machines from the outside and take some photos.  It’s just really amazing to think that all these are sitting on wheels!

Looking back at the space shuttle from below.
Reached ground floor to look at this amazing plane’s wheels.
One last look at this magnificent tandem.

All that walking made me hungry but unfortunately, since the Space Center is about to close, most stores were already closing that time so I just settled for some iced coffee from the vending machine.  And with that, we had to make one last stop at the souvenir shop.

More astronaut food!

Space Center Houston was a very nice experience for me despite having so little time to explore.  There were still so many things I would’ve wanted to see and try, but I think we were able to get the most of our time there.  I guess that means I still have reasons to return when I get back to Houston!

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