The catchphrase "Houston, we have a problem!" was popularized by the movie Apollo 13. It was a communication between an astronaut and the NASA Mission Control Center. It has since become a catchphrase for the occurrence of an unforeseen problem. But we never had a problem when we visited NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas last December. In fact, it went as well and as wonderful as expected.
The Johnson Space Center is the world leader in human space flight operations for NASA. It is the training base of American astronauts and the location of the Mission Control which monitors the work of these space traveler while outside of the earth.
Aside from the more technical part of the center, a facility where the agency can showcase their work and inspire the youth is also available and is accessible to the public for a small entrance fee which enables them to maintain the property.
There's a lot going on in the Space Center even before you enter the facility.
From the parking, you can see the large shuttle replica which you can go inside and explore.
Then just before the entrance, a statue of an astronaut is another instagram worthy spot.
Inside the facility is a myriad of exhibits and pop-ups which you can personally experience.
Old spacecraft previously flown as well as other artifacts that shows the progression of space exploration can be found here. Examples are the Apollo 17 command module, a full-size Skylab training module and a Moon rock which you can actually touch.
THE ASTRONAUT GALLERY
This area in the Space Center showcases the space suits and other accessories worn by different astronauts. It displays a comprehensive collection used during flight trainings, inflight and spacewalks on the Moon.
MISSION MARS EXHIBIT
This is an interactive exhibit inspired by Mars itself. You'll discover the different hardware and equipment used to travel to the red planet. A virtual Martian sunset can also be seen. You’ll also be able to feel the texture of rock cliffs and go inside a simulated Orion capsule.
LIVING IN SPACE
This is a live presentation in the Space Center where a Mission Briefing Officer gives a glimpse of how astronauts live inside the International Space Station. During our visit, a lady asked a volunteer to try out the different machineries inside an ISS replica. She showed the kid how astronauts eat, exercise and even poop.
There are also activities within the Space Center that are meant to be temporary only. We were lucky enough to chance upon the Galaxy Lights which enabled us to play with lights in different ways.
Remember the shuttle visible from the Parking Area? It is a replica of the Shuttle called Independence and is mounted in a NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft. Aside from their actual internal features, both of the plane and the shuttle have exhibits inside. You get to walk through and see the real condition of the how life would be inside while in space. More interestingly is that you will know how the astronauts operate and fly the device.
NASA TRAM TOUR
This was our favorite part of the day. Despite the cold, we ventured out and rode an open-air tram which took us around the Space Center. There are two types of Tram Tour that you can join. We first went to the Astronaut Training Facility Tour which brought us from the main building around the grounds, which is huge, and to Space Vehicle Mockup Facility in Building 9. There, we were able to watch from above the area where astronauts are supposed to train for their missions. Unfortunately, there were none at the moment, however, we were able to see the place as well as the zone where scientists and engineers work to develop the future shuttles that would be used to explore space and beyond. After the building tour, we were brought to the Rocket Park where an actual Saturn V rockets are displayed.
Because of the cold, we did not join the other Tran Tour. This would have brought us to Christopher C. Kraft Mission Control which is where the Apollo Mission Control Center is. They say that sometimes, you might be lucky enough to witness actual flight controllers monitoring activities on the International Space Station of current missions to space.
Feeling hungry with all the stuff to do inside the Space Center? Well, there is a large food court where you can get food from burgers, pizzas to rice dishes.
There are some exciting activities, for an extra fee, that you can avail such as Lunch with an Astronaut (a self-explanatory experience) and Level 9 VIP Tour, which is a very special guided tour with a behind-the-scenes look of the real world of NASA.
The center is typically open from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Tickets differs between age range from $24.95 for kids, $29.95 for adults and $27.95 for senior citizens.
Have you been to the NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas? Tell us your experience about it.