Space Center Houston, Texas, United States Trip: 2015-07   Update: 2015-07-27   By: yanz

Title: NASA, Space Center Houston One Day Visit

Preparation: We bought the Houston citypass from the citypass website. Two Adults and two kids costs $188, $51 per adult, $41 per kid plus the $4 processing fee, we saved 50% compared to the total of the original prices. The places you can visit with the citypass are: Houston Natural Science Museum, Space Center Houston (NASA), Downtown Aquarium, Houston Zoo or Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Children's Museum of Houston or Kemah boardwalk All-day Ride Pass. The good thing about the citypass is the big saving; the disadvantage is you only have nine consecutive days visit all these places. On the first day you visit any of these places, the days start to count down. If you do not have many vacation days, then you have two weekends at most to use the citypass. We ordered the Citypass online, when we first visited the Natural Science Museum, I had to spent about 10 minutes or so in line to get the tickets by giving them the receipt I printed out. In the security check, no outside food or drink allowed, no large luggage or coolers allowed in NASA.

General opinion: If you come to Houston or you're a Houstonian, the one place you do not want to miss is: the Space Center Houston. in this Space Center, you can see the real Saturn V rocket, the most powerful rocket ever built and operated. Its design played a major role in successfully transporting and landing American astronauts on the moon during the Apollo missions. During the tram tour, you will see how astronauts have been trained in the mock astronauts training center, the mission control center, and the descriptions for what main functionality each of the main buildings does.

Attractions and activities: The tram tour in NASA now has two different lines: red line and blue line. I asked the staff which one is more interesting, the answer is red line. RED Line has the astronaut training facility tour but the blue line has the mission control visit. Last time we have seen the mission control system room. If you have time, you can take one at a time and then do two times. The Red tour line stops at the Astronaut Mock training center and the rocket Saturn V park. The tram tour was really good, the tour guide explain what each of the buildings and the facilities does. e.g. the Quarantine building: the facility for quarantining the astronauts who come back from the space ; where is the food for astronauts has been manufactured; where the building is and how the astronauts are trained for the nearly 0 gravity situation, etc. Sometimes the waiting line for the tour maybe more than 30 or 40 minutes, it really depends when you wait in the tram line. In addition to the tour, there are also several exhibition halls that are worth to see. The Moon exploration, the International Space Station exhibition, the Skylab trainer. The Moon exploration part has lunar soil research exhibition, lunar Soil composition, lunar soil sample, and a moon rock that can be touched. There is an 18 minutes movie that briefly describes the NASA space exploration history and it's good to watch. The Saturn Rocket Park, does not only have the Saturn V Rocket, but also has the big wall posts about the history of Apollo space exploration, from Apollo 1 to Apollo 17, it's a very detailed description about each mission and the astronauts in the mission. Two things worth to mention here is: there is a knowledge test in the end of the Skylab exhibition hall. I did and my son also did the test, both of us enjoyed it. In the left front of the first floor, there are many places where the young kids can interact with. e.g. the infra image is a good one, my daughter and myself played.

Dining: NASA, Space Center Houston has three food vendors and other snack vendors but the rush hour waiting in a line will be long. if you have time, it would be better to eat something before you get in. We ate our sandwiches around noon and got in; in the late afternoon, bought some turkey club sandwiches there.

Commute: The address of Space Center Houston, NASA's Johnson Space center: 1601 NASA Road 1, Houston TX 77058 Based on the GPS and google map, we easily found the parking lot. We did encounter some slow traffic in I-45 but it was not too bad. Be prepared to have food and drink at hand, in case you're stuck in traffic for hours, you may need it any time.

Things I wish I had known before: Before you enter into the tram tour line, there is a photographer to take your family picture for you. This is only one time snapshot, when you come back from the tour, they will ask you if you want the picture or not. This time we paid about $32 for the picture. So please remind everybody of your family to look at the camera, not close the eyes when the photographer is taking the picture, otherwise you will end up paying the money for the picture but one of your family member closed the eyes in the picture.


  • Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center—the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) center for human spaceflight activities—located in Houston, Texas.
  • You can really touch the Moon Rock here. This rock was brought to Earth by the Apollo 17 crew who visited the Moon in December 1972. Astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan collected the sample in the Valley of Taurun-Littrow, an area similar to the Grand Canyon, located on the edge of the Sea of Serenity in the upper right quadrant of the Moon as viewed from Earth. One of only eight lunar rocks in the world available to be touched by the public, this Moon rock is 3.8 billion years old.
  • In the exhibition hall for the Moon exploration, there are many facts displayed about the Lunar Soil Composition. E.g. Apollo 11 Sample #10084  Elements: Oxygen 42.0%  Other 0.9%   Calcium 8.9%  Magnesium 4.8%  Iron 12.3%  Aluminum 7.3%  Titanium 4.5%  Silicon 19.3%, etc
  • This is the actual Mercury capsule flown by Astronaut Gordon Cooper on May 15-16, 1963. In a triumphant conclusion to Project Mercury, Cooper traveled longer and faster than any American had up until that time.
  • To save on weight, most food items are freeze-dried. They are then prepared by injecting water into the container so the food can absorb the moisture. After heating, the bags are opened and the food is eaten.
  • Robonaut (the white figure in the picture), is designed to help the regular and repetitive tasks inside and outside the space station. The goal is to free up the crew for more critical work, including scientific research.
  • The International Space Station consists of Canada, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States, and eleven Member States of the European Space Agency (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).  ( from wiki)
  • A single engine powered the second stage of the Saturn IB launch vehicle used to place astronauts into Earth orbit for Apollo lunar program spacecraft tests, and for the three Skylab missions. One re-startable engine powered the S-IVB thrid stage and five engines powered the S-II second stage of the Saturn V launch vehicle during II Apollo manned flights to the Moon. Five engines on the S-II second stage also propelled the Skylab orbiting laboratory into Earth orbit. The five S-II engines burned for about 6-1/2 minutes.
  • F-1 engine: A cluster of five engines like these provided the power of the first stage of the Saturn V launch vehicle during the Apollo-Saturn test flights, manned flights to the Moon and the launch of the Skylab orbiting laboratory into Earch orbit. The engines were powered for 2-1/2 minutes lifting the Saturn V to an altitude of about 41 miles and a speed of about 6000 miles per hour. Each engine weighed 15,650 pounds and developed a thrust of 1,500,000 pounds.
  • The Saturn V Rocket housed in this Rocket Park building is one of three surviving vehicles built to launch American astronauts to the moon during the Apollo program of the 1960s and early 1970s. 

The Saturn V rocket, the most powerful rocket ever built and operated. Its design played a major role in successfully transporting and landing American astronauts on the moon during the Apollo missions.
  • The left: Mercury-Redstone: A one-man spacecraft-booster combination like this one propelled the first two American astronauts( Al Shepard and Gus Grissom ) into Space in May and July of 1961. Al Shepard's spacecraft reached an altitude of 101 nautical miles in a ballistic arc above the Earth. The flight lasted about 15-1/2 minutes and Shepard was weightless for over five minutes. The vehicle reached a velocity of over 5,000 miles per hour and landed 236 downrange. At liftoff, the vehicle weighed about 66,000 pounds. Propellants included ethy alcohol, water and liquid oxygen. A single A-7 engine powered the vehicle into space.
  • Mission: 16 - 24 July 1969
Landed on Moon: 20 July 1969
Landing Site: Mare Tranquillitatis - Sea of Tranquility
Command Module: Columbia
Lunar Module: Eagle
Neil A. Armstrong, commander ( left )
Michael Collins, command module pilot (middle)
Edwin E. "Buzz" aldrin, Jr., lunar module pilot ( right )
  • Facts: The International Space Station, 357 feet long - almost 1 million pounds - living space of a 5-bedroom house - an acre of solar panels - up to 95kw of power - 52 computers - 15 nations - 6 crew - 200-plus active experiments.
The International Space Station is a unique place – a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth.

It is a microgravity laboratory in which an international crew of six people live and work while traveling at a speed of five miles per second, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes.

The space station has been continuously occupied since November 2000. In that time, more than 200 people from 15 countries have visited.

Crew members spend about 35 hours each week conducting research in many disciplines to advance scientific knowledge in Earth, space, physical, and biological sciences for the benefit of people living on our home planet. ( from
  • Space Shuttle Independence, formerly known as Explorer, is a full-scale, high-fidelity replica of the Space Shuttle. It was built by Guard-Lee in Apopka, Florida, installed at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in 1993, and moved to Space Center Houston in 2012.

The model is 122.7 ft (37.4 m) long, 54 ft (16 m) high, has a 78 ft (24 m) wingspan,[2] and weighs 171,860 lb (77,950 kg).

The bottom is one of NASA's two modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
  • First flight controlled from Houston - Gemini IV, 1965( first U.S. space walk)
Programs flown - Gemini( 1962-1966), Apollo(1963-1972), Skylab(1973-1979), Apollo-Soyuz(1975), Space Shuttle(1981-2011), International Space Station(1998-present)
Space Station Mission Control now operates 24/7/365 and is a hub of worldwide space station flight control.
  • The green  capsule, is the mock up for the main transportation of 3 astronauts to get to the International Space Station.
  • Skylab - America's first Space Station: This is the actual trainer used by astronauts to train for life aboard Skylab, the first American space station. After the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, Skylab was designed to develop methods of living and working in space for long periods of time. It also functioned as the first telescope in space and served as a laboratory to study how the human body adapts to long duration exposure to a microgravity environment. The space station was created by converting the final stage of a Saturn V moon rocket into a habitatable spacecraft and lining it with exeriements and equipment. The Skylab crews had plenty of room. The space inside was about 12,500 cubic feet, about the same size as a three bedroom house and almost as comfortable. Crews had individual bunks, a ward room, personal libraries and even a shower!  Three crews spent a total of 171 days onboard Skylab and conducted a wide array of research.


yanz   2015-08-06 22:42  

Why should we flag this? It contains
If you're new to Houston and cannot visit NASA soon, this is a good post for you to know about NASA.