Space Center Houston   3 comments

I’ve been a space geek longer than a cat geek. I was a space geek since I was at least seven–the age of my daughter. So, while on spring break, we went to Space Center Houston, home of the Johnson Space Center and mission control. It was actually really exciting to be able to walk through with her and show her things.

The center offers a tram tour of the Johnson Space Center. We drove by the mission control building, though we were not able to go in to see it on the day we were there.
Mission Control Building

We did get to see the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility. This is where full-scale replicas of the International Space Station (ISS), space shuttle, and other spacecraft are set up to allow crews to train and engineers to develop equipment for use in space.
Space Vehicle Mockup Facility

It’s easy to forget how international space flight has become. However, one of the mockups was a Soyuz, the Russian spacecraft currently used to take crews to the ISS.
Soyuz Trainer

One of the Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer was being made ready to send to Seattle’s Museum of Flight.
Full Shuttle Fusalage Trainer

A crew compartment trainer–perhaps this one–will be heading to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
Shuttle Crew Compartment Trainer

I believe this is a trainer for Orion, the next US manned spacecraft.
Orion Trainer

They had two rover mock-ups. On the right is a new design for the moon, asteroids, or Mars. On the left is one of similar design used in the Apollo program on the Moon.
Rovers Old and New

Robotic explorers Spiderbot and Astrobot were there as well.
Spiderbot & Robonaut

The next stop was the Saturn V complex, where one of three remaining Saturn Vs were on display. This rocket is what Apollo used to get to the moon. The one in Houston was earmarked for Apollo 18, and is the only on display to be completely flight-ready components. Outside, the F-1 engine, used in the first stage, was on display. This could produce 1.5 million pounds of thrust.
Saturn F1 (First Stage) Engine
Five were used on the first stage.
Business End of a Saturn V

Long View of the Saturn V

The second stage had five J-1 engines. It used liquid hydrogen and oxygen. It’s exhaust was steam.
Second Stage of the Saturn V

The third stage had a single J-2 engine.
Third Stage of the Saturn V
It could produce a quarter-million pounds of thrust. The third stage was fired once to stabilize Apollo’s orbit, and a second time to send it to the moon.
J-1 Engine

The Command Module (CM), unpainted on this display, was the only part to go to the moon and return.
Command Module

The arm that connected the launch tower to the Space Shuttle was also on display.
Space Shuttle Crew Arm

Behind the Saturn V display were…cows. Perhaps they are involved in concepts involving getting to the moon through springing off the ground or other base by a muscular effort of the legs and feet.
Cows at NASA

Back at the main complex, there was a full-scale mockup of the Space Shuttle crew compartment.
Space Shutle Mockup
You could walk up to see the cockpit.
Space Shuttle Cockpit

A Space Shuttle Main Engine was on display. It produces a half-million pound of thrust–my daughter is standing in front of both this and the F-1 for a size comparison. The Space Shuttle uses three of these.
Space Shuttle Main Engine

There were many Apollo artifacts, including this one from even before the program.
Kennedy Podium
This is the program used by President John Kennedy for his speech challenging the country to get to the moon by the end of the 1960s.

A mock-up of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) was prominently displayed.
Lunar Escursion Module
Along with a mockup of the Lunar Rover
Lunar Rover
The actual Apollo 17 Command Module, the last manned spacecraft to go to the moon, was on display.
Apollo 17
Along with a moon rock.
Touching the Moon

Omega is a sponsor of Space Center Houston, and provided a very large watch.
Big Omega
Why? One of their models, the Speedmaster, was the first watch on the moon, and used throughout the space program.
Omega Speedmaster

My daughter was the volunteer from the audience for their “Living in Space” presentation. She got to help demonstrate how astronauts live in space, such as eat or exercise. Here she is, showing how to sleep in space.

There was a large collection of garments worn in space. I liked John Young’s ascent/descent suit (“pumpkin suit”) from STS-1, the first space shuttle mission.
STS-1 Ascent Suit

My daughter preferred the Hawaiian shirt astronaut Richard Covey wore on STS-26.
Caitlin's Favorite Spacesuit

We had a great time, and it was especially neat sharing with my daughter something that has been a major interest of mine since I was her age.


Posted 2012-04-01 by Mr. Guilt in Aircraft, Spring Break 2012

3 responses to “Space Center Houston

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  1. Pingback: April Hodge-Podge « Mr. Guilt's Blog

  2. Pingback: Crew Compartment Trainer « Mr. Guilt's Blog

  3. Pingback: Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center | Mr. Guilt's Blog

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