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A Stellar Day Trip: Visiting Space Center Houston

Maddy Payne
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(From left) Buzz summer intern Maddy Payne and her friend Ruth Farmer posing with an astronaut.  

 

The last time I went to Space Center Houston I was around seven years old and I remember it being enormous. I remember dozens of interactive exhibits and old astronaut suits and equipment on display. But most of all, I remember getting into the space simulator with my dad and feeling delightfully terrified. I also know from personal experience and the amount of times my dad flipped us upsidedown that the space simulator is amusing for all ages. It was fun to recently relive my childhood experience. Last week, I went to visit the center with my friend Ruth Farmer, who is currently attending Texas A&M University and will be a junior this fall.

The space simulator that I remember so vividly allows visitors to experience first-hand what it is like to pilot a spacecraft. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it. There is a separate fee of $7 in addition to the regular admission fee, but the experience is worth it. While you’re in the simulator, there are cameras recording you, which are then shown to the general public outside. This provides great entertainment for those who are awaiting their turn. 

Space Center Houston

A view from the outside of Space Center Houston. The 159-ton shuttle carrier aircraft and the 80-ton shuttle replica Independence are the first thing you see when entering Space Center Houston. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

Space Center Houston is the official visitor center of NASA and right next to the visitor center is the Johnson Space Center. This is home to the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center, which manages all flight control for manned space missions. The Johnson Space Center is the main center for the International Space Station and houses the NASA Astronaut Corps where astronauts are selected and then trained. 

At Space Center Houston, there are many interesting exhibits, tours and video documentaries suitable for all ages. I found the summer exhibit, Science Fiction, Science Future, and the Mission Mars exhibit particularly interesting. The summer exhibit takes around an hour and presents the interesting concept of science fiction ideas and theories becoming future reality. The Mission Mars exhibit takes around 45 minutes and allows you to experience a Martian sunset, touch a rock from Mars, understand climate and landscape on Mars, test out gravity differences and learn about space crops. 

Summer exhibit

The beginning of the Science Fiction, Science Future summer exhibit. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

 

Two of Space Center Houston’s original exhibits are the Astronaut Gallery and the International Space Station Gallery. The Astronaut Gallery takes around 30 minutes and showcases a collection of actual space suits worn by men and women of space exploration, starting from those worn by the very first astronauts, to those worn by astronauts today. The International Space Station exhibit provides a look inside the space station: unique technologies on the ISS, new artifacts, robotic interactive attractions and informative video documentaries about the ISS. 
For the younger kids, the Kids Space Place is perfect. There are many different attractions including a “Mars Rover,” which children can operate themselves using a remote video controller.  

Maddy Payne

Buzz summer intern Maddy Payne poses with a cutout of John Glenn in the International Space Gallery. (Photo: Ruth Farmer)

 

The summer exhibit is open until Sept. 4, 2017 so be sure to check it out before it closes. General admission tickets are $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for children ages 4-11. You can find a map and guide to Space Center Houston here. If you’d like to learn more about the different exhibits click here

  • Space simulator

    One of the space simulators at Space Center Houston. These are great fun for all ages and provide a realistic experience of space travel for visitors. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

  • Astronaut Gallery

    The Astronaut Gallery showcases actual space suits worn by famous astronauts including John Young and Judy Resnik. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

     

  • Space suit

    A space suit hanging from the ceiling in Space Center Houston. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

     

  • Ruth Farmer

    Ruth Farmer, a rising junior at Texas A&M University, learns about future genetics in the Science Fiction, Science Future summer exhibit. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

  • Maddy Payne

    Buzz summer intern Maddy Payne stands next to a spacecraft capsule. (Photo: Ruth Farmer)

  • Space simulator
  • Astronaut Gallery
  • Space suit
  • Ruth Farmer
  • Maddy Payne

More photos

Space simulator

One of the space simulators at Space Center Houston. These are great fun for all ages and provide a realistic experience of space travel for visitors. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

Astronaut Gallery

The Astronaut Gallery showcases actual space suits worn by famous astronauts including John Young and Judy Resnik. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

 

Space suit

A space suit hanging from the ceiling in Space Center Houston. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

 

Ruth Farmer

Ruth Farmer, a rising junior at Texas A&M University, learns about future genetics in the Science Fiction, Science Future summer exhibit. (Photo: Maddy Payne)

Maddy Payne

Buzz summer intern Maddy Payne stands next to a spacecraft capsule. (Photo: Ruth Farmer)

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