Austin Roadtrip: Johnson Space Center


It wasn’t too long after leaving New Orleans that we officially arrived in Texas!

welcometotexas  We arrived in the afternoon and checked into our swanky hotel — a Super 8 I believe. It was at this point, on day 4 of 5 of our road trip, that we decided to install my CB radio.

Oops on not thinking of that sooner. So dad spent an hour or two puttering away in my car figuring out how to run the wiring through the dash. In the end I had a working CB radio under the driver’s seat so we could listen to the truckers during the last 3 hours of our trip. (D’oh.)

The next morning we woke up to a true Texan breakfast before heading to the Johnson Space Center.

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We jumped on the next Tram Tour and got a view of a lot of the cool stuff happening at JSC.

We got to see some of the Space Training Mockup Facility, which is exactly what it sounds like.

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Here’s the International Space Station (sort of).
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We even got to visit the viewing area of the original Mission Control room, which was used for launches until 1992.

At the end of the 90-minute tram tour we stopped at the Saturn V exhibit at Rocket Park.

Needless to say, there were a lot of rockets sitting outside, like this F-1 rocket engine used in the Saturn V.

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Inside was one of 3 remaining Saturn V rockets, famous for launching the rockets that took men to the moon.

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The whole thing is 36 stories tall and is still the only vehicle to have gotten people beyond low-earth orbit. It was expendable, which is why only 3 are left in existence.

The Saturn V was powered mainly by 5 of these F-1 engines which provide the unmistakable fiery eruption that’s so characteristic of shuttle launches.

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The Saturn V building houses exhibits covering the full Apollo program, including a memorial to the victims of the Apollo 1 disaster: Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.

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Before the incident happened, Grissom had forebodingly told the press, “We are in a risky business and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.”

It ended up being an unfortunate turn of fate that Grissom would later die during Apollo 1, but I’m sure his sentiment was important to the continuation of the program after the accident.

Bottom line: f you go to the Johnson Space Center I highly recommend the tram tour.

After the tour we went back to Space Center Plaza in the main building. There, the main attraction is a walk-through of a space shuttle mockup.

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So many switches and gauges.

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I’m sure this is exactly how they store their space suits in the real thing.

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Even more buttons and gauges.

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Of course, we stopped through the gift shop on the way out.

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We had only a few hours to spend at JSC before we had to move on to get to Austin at a decent hour and meet my new roommates. But even a few hours is time well spent to see some of the cool exhibits NASA has put together.

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4 thoughts on “Austin Roadtrip: Johnson Space Center

  1. I have always wanted to tour either Kennedy or Johnson Space Center — or both. I remember being absolutley fascinated with the space program when it first started. (Yes, I’m that old.) I even had the names of the first seven astronauts memorized.

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    • The Johnson Space Center is a really cool tour if you get the chance to go. (I hear Austin is relatively nearby, too!) I haven’t visited the Kennedy Space Center itself, but NASA tends to be good at Pr and education, so I’m guessing it’s also a good tourist destination.

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