Written by Shirley T
Sunday, 06 December 2009 16:03
I believe "Houston...The Eagle has landed" is a very meaningful phrase to mankind. Indicating human's advancement in space technology and moon exploration! This famous quote was uttered by Neil Armstrong on 20 July 1969 before the first man walked on the moon on the same day. It was delivered to Duke who worked at Mission Control Center in Johnson Space Center in Houston although the mission of Apollo 11 that launched Saturn V occurred at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center or JSC which is located at Bay Area, southeast Houston is one of ten major NASA field centers. Formerly known as 'Manned Spacecraft Center' when it was completed and opened in 1963. Later renamed to Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973 in honor of the late U.S. president who was a Texas native.
Acting as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Center, Johnson Space Center sits on an area of 1620 acres and houses about 100 buildings. Fundamentally, JSC is responsible for coordinating and monitoring human space mission since the Gemini Project including training, managing activity on board and providing directions. In addition, JSC was also the former site for 'Lunar Receiving Laboratory' which in layman term means the quarantine center after the astronauts (and/or space sample) return from space. It also leads in design and implementation of International Space Station (ISS), NASA's flight-related scientific and medical research programs.
In 1994, Johnson Space Center is open to visitor as Space Center Houston. An opportunity for layperson to experience and learn about the journey to be an astronaut. This place shares the excitement to be part of the premier team that can fly to space and also the commitment and risk involved.
We were at Houston last month on a short weekend trip. Our first mission was to land on Space Center Houston the first thing we touched Bay Area. Reaching about noon did not give us much edge. In fact, we had to plan and sticked to the attraction schedule in order to maximize our visit. Alternatively, the manager's recommendation of 'Must See' attraction is able to guide based on the time you have until the center is closed at 6pm.
After getting an entrance pass of $19.95 (an adult) each, we were thrilled to enter into the building. If you ask me, the building itself isn't large. But it features 9 inspiring corners which made me feel as if there are enormous stuff to see and explore.
After a quick play about with the astronaut helmet and "I was there" photography session, we sat down on a bench to witness the experience of "Living In Space". The 25 minutes interactive documentary provided great insight on how daily activities are conducted in space.
Then, we proceed to "Starship Gallery" whereby we saw the "Faith 7" capsule of Mercury spacecraft which were flown by astronaut Gorgon Cooper on May 15-16, 1963 and the world's largest display of moon rocks. Among all the sections we visited, I would say this corner occupies the largest area of the building and it is a must-see for all first timer to Space Center Houston. Allow about an hour for "Starship Gallery" to explore the exhibits after "On Human Destiny" show.
Back to our schedule, we headed to "Blast Off" as the next destination which enabled us to experience the spectacular sensation of a blast off as if I was standing at the launching site! In a control environment, the visual, sound and white smoke effect were getting very close to the feeling when million pounds of rocket was pushed skyward!
We continued with "Inside the Space Station" followed by "To Be An Astronaut" movies on the giant screen at Northrop Grumman Theater for the following an hour and a half before leaving the building for an outdoor "NASA Tram Tour".
If you have time, catch up with "Flight Simulator" section. As for us, we spent some time to acquire new knowledge from the special exhibits at "Space Center Plaza" right after the turnstile gate.
Do not miss to take a short flight upward to witness the shuttle mock up, its main engine, flight deck and cockpit.
For kids, guess don't leave without "Kids Space Place & Martian Matrix".
1601 NASA Parkway
Houston, Texas 77058
Phone: (281) 244-2100
Operating Hours: 10am - 5pm weekdays & 10am - 6pm weekends
Tips: Go as early as the gate opens. Head for NASA Tram Tour the first thing you arrive there to avoid larger crowd turn out later.
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