Fascinated by the lure of the great unknown, the excitement of adventure, and the infinite wonders of space, visitors flock to Space Center Houston in Texas. In fact, more than 18 million visitors have walked through its doors and into the wonder of the Space Program. As the official visitor center for the NASA Johnson Space Center, it is the best place for eager adventurers to see real space suits, walk through shuttles, view actual NASA facilities, and perhaps even talk to an astronaut. One of the top attractions in the Houston Area, the Center, about a half an hour drive from downtown, is a must see on any trip to the city. More Things to do in Texas

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© Space Center Houston

The Johnson Space Center (JSC) itself dates back to 1961, originally established as the Manned Spacecraft Center. Since that time, it has played an integral part of the journey to space, from the Apollo Program laid out by president Kennedy, to Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon in 1969. The JSC continues to play a vital role in the Country’s space program, and is still the home of mission control.

To keep up with the Nation’s fascination with space, Space Center Houston opened in 1992 to provide an avenue to nurture and celebrate that interest. Today, the Center has a significant focus on education, particularly on developing interest in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) areas. Over 100,000 teachers and students visit the Center each year, engaging in activities and exploring the more than 400 items and artifacts on display, including the largest collection of moon rocks available anywhere outside the moon.

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2.The Main Plaza & Starship Gallery

The Main Plaza & Starship Gallery
© Space Center Houston

A visit to the Space Center Houston begins at the Main Plaza. This area often features seasonal displays or changing exhibitions. In addition to these exhibits, several permanent features can also be found in this gallery. These include models and shuttles to explore, including a first production lunar module.

Starship Gallery

A visit to the Starship Gallery takes guests on a journey through the history of the space program. Highlights include the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules, as well as the Skylab 1-G trainer. This trainer, which is the largest object inside Space Center Houston, prepared astronauts to work on the Country’s first space station. Visitors can also touch actual moon rocks in this fascinating exhibition hall of America’s journey to space. The Starship Gallery is also home to the Destiny Theater, where guests can see the Center’s signature film, Human Destiny, highlighting many of the artifacts found in the gallery.

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3.NASA Tram Tour & The International Space Station

NASA Tram Tour & The International Space Station
© Space Center Houston

From here, visitors can head to the NASA Tram Tour, the most popular of all exhibits at the Center. This attraction takes guests around the Johnson Space Center, still the mission control for the International Space station, as well as the training ground for current astronauts. Approximately 90 minutes in duration, this tour also includes a turn through Rocket Park to see the actual Saturn V rocket, along with others that played integral parts in the planet’s space journey. As this tour is taken via open air tram through operative government facilities, it is subject not only to weather conditions, but to work operations, as well.

The International Space Station

The International Space Station Gallery at the Space Center Houston is yet another exciting attraction to explore. Items in this exhibit include a model of the International space station, as well as objects and artifacts from the off-world-orbiting laboratory. Visitors can attend presentations and collect countless interesting facts about the International Space Station.

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4.Astronaut Gallery and Space Center Theater & Blast Off! Theater

Astronaut Gallery and Space Center Theater & Blast Off! Theater
© Space Center Houston

With the most robust collection of space suits found anywhere, the Astronaut Gallery provides a fascinating look at some of the sartorial logistics of space exploration. These include a shuttle launch entry suit, Pete Conrad’s Apollo 12 suit, John Young’s escape suit, and a suit once worn by fallen heroine Judy Resnik. Visitors will also want to explore the Gallery Wall, showcasing crew photos and portraits of every American Astronaut to date. Through the Astronaut Gallery, visitors will find the Space Center Theater. With a five-story tall screen and state of the art audio and video technology, this theater showcases a variety of films from documentaries to blockbusters.

Blast Off! Theater

In addition to the Space Center Theater, the Center is also home to the Blast Off! Theater. A truly unique experience, the Blast Off! Theater takes visitors through a simulation of an actual launch. From the feel of the thrust to the sights and sounds of the launch, this is a truly sensational experience.

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5.Independence Plaza

Independence Plaza
© Space Center Houston

A trip to Space Center Houston would not be complete without a visit to Independence Plaza. Here, visitors can embark on a one-of-a-kind experience, exploring a full replica of a NASA shuttle. Mounted on top of an original NASA 905 shuttle carrier, the size and scale of the aircrafts create a sense of wonder and awe, as visitors climb in to explore. In addition to the shuttles themselves, an array of exhibits highlights the history of the shuttle, as well as focusing on the role of STEM subjects in the space program. Included as part of admission to the Space Center, access is managed through specific time slots. Tickets and times can be reserved online, in order for guests to better plan their visit.

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© Space Center Houston

Education at the Science Center Houston is provided via the Manned Space Flight Education Center. The Center’s emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math seek to broaden the understanding of children and adults, alike. Educational offerings include such programs as day camps targeting kids ages four through eleven, Scouts Camp-Ins for badge earning adventures, and many school field trips. The Center also offers Space Center U, a five-day program for students of all ages that works to promote team work, communication and engineering skills. Participants complete tasks such as robotics, cryogenics, rocketry, and even scuba diving and astronaut training. In addition to these programs, education also takes other shapes, from outreach in the community and resources for educators, to Space After Dark, two day exclusive workshops including dinner and a private guided tour of the Johnson Space Center.

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7.Plan Your Visit

Plan Your Visit
© Space Center Houston

In addition to the main exhibits and events, Space Center Houston also hosts periodic events, from annual fundraisers, to opportunities to meet an astronaut every Friday. Since the excitement and education can easily last all day, Guests will want to visit the Zero G diner for snacks and meals to fuel their interstellar adventures.

The SpaceTrader Gift Shop makes it easy to take home a bit of the fun and learning, or even a bit of astronaut food for the road. With films and live shows available at four different venues on site, guests will want to plan their day to ensure they can attend all the shows that most interest them. The Center experiences peak visitation during the summer and holidays; for a less crowded experience, guests are advised to visit outside of these times. Parking is available onsite for a small fee. For an even more enriching experience, guests visiting on a Friday can purchase lunch with an astronaut, to hear the experience of space from someone who lived it.

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1601 NASA Road 1, Houston, TX 77058, USA, Phone: 281-244-2100

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Space Center Houston, a Fun Family Attraction in Texas