Planet Mars is Calling


Advertisement
United States' flag
North America » United States » Texas » Houston
July 28th 2022
Published: July 28th 2022
Edit Blog Post

Space Center HoustonSpace Center HoustonSpace Center Houston

The Space Shuttle Independence (a mock-up) on a 747 transport (actually used). It had rained here by this time also.
Given the six hour time difference, we were inevitably awake early, so I did my usual and went out to get some sunrise photographs (it has been an amazing sunset when we were driving yesterday evening).

There is a lake nearby (Clear Lake) so I walked there and was not disappointed - a stunning sunrise, with a number of palm trees to provide some interest. Already at this time in the morning it was starting to get hot and humid. Note to self - leave my camera in the car overnight, as it was cold from the air conditioning in the hotel room and promptly misted up as I was trying to take photos.

After the sunset I watched the fish jumping out of the water for a while (I'm not sure what they're trying to achieve there) and then went back to the hotel to get ready for the day and then we headed back out again to walk and get some breakfast. There are loads and loads of different food outlets around here, although almost all of them were closed at that time in the morning and they also all seemed to be fast food or takeaways.
Texas SunriseTexas SunriseTexas Sunrise

The Clear Lake in Houston.
There was nowhere that really suggested that we should go back for a meal this evening. We'll keep looking.

Sadly, we went to McDonalds for breakfast. Even that was space themed, given that it was practically opposite the Houston Space Center. There was a huge spaceman outside, you guessed it, holding some McDonalds food.

I needed to go to Best Buy to get a card reader that I had forgotten to bring with me. There was one about five miles away so we quickly drove there. Yet more food outlets - literally mile after mile of them. We are certainly spoilt for choice, although I don't think I'll need to get my best shirt and tie out (not that I've brought them anyway).

We got to Best Buy and it had clearly been raining extremely hard, although we had not seen a drop back where we were. We stopped off at a CVS Chemist on the way back (a bit like Boots) and a few things, including a lot of bottles of water.

We had booked to go to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center at 1.00, so we chilled in our hotel room for a
McDonaldsMcDonaldsMcDonalds

There's a bit of a space theme round here.
little while and then walked across - clearly walking is unusual as there are very few footpaths (apart from a nice path immediately outside the hotel with lots of space related sculptures) and the pedestrian crossing definitely did not allow enough time to cross four lanes in each direction. At three quarters of the way across, we were faced with four lanes of huge pick-up trucks heading straight at us. Time to panic and run!!

The Space Center consisted of a huge experience' building, but the main part is the tram tours, which actually go across the road to the all the NASA operations buildings. I had a bit of a panic thinking I should have booked them in advance, but there were plenty of tickets available.

I thought there was just the Mission Control building here, but there is actually a huge university-like campus with all sorts of space mission related activities going on - experiments, research, development, training, project management and more besides. What I also didn't realise is just how big and serious the mission to mars is (unless I missed something, in the UK we don't even know that such a mission even exists).
Space Based Street NamesSpace Based Street NamesSpace Based Street Names

The corner of Saturn Lane and Space Park Drive.
Apparently the plan is to go back to the moon by 2025 and then use that as a staging-post for a manned mission to mars by 2045. It's all news to me.

One of the tram tours was to the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center. This is the actual original Mission Control from the Apollo moon landings, which has been restored and is exactly like it was in the 1960s (Mr Kraft was the first Mission Commander). We all sat in the observation gallery and there was a presentation about the Apollo 11 mission - a kind of recreation of mission control at the time, albeit, with no actual people.

The building is still used as Mission Control for current space missions, but we don't get to see the latest and new control room unfortunately. It would be great to compare - presumably the current screens do not project hand written mission schedules and arrows moved by hand to manually show the positions of the astronauts. How times have changed, but I bet that blew the minds of everyone at the time. We were told that taking four photos on our smartphones would have used all
RainRainRain

Where the hell had that come from?
the memory of the four mainframe computers used to control the Apollo moon missions. I must remember that next time I'm wasting all that vast processing power by taking a picture of my in-flight meal.

We then went on a separate tram tour to the rocket area and the Astronaut Training Center. There were nowhere near as many rockets as there are at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (see The Best Theme Park in Florida), although both do each have an actual one of the absolutely gigantic Saturn 5 rockets. Also, there didn't seem to be a lot of astronaut training going on at the moment.

I'm not entirely sure why it couldn't all be covered by a single tour.

After a look around the gift shop (or should I say the "Space Trader Gift Shop" - space tat basically), we left and went for something to eat. We settled on a Greek restaurant and were pleasantly surprised when we could sit down and have a "not fast" meal.


Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Advertisement

Mission ControlMission Control
Mission Control

The restored Apollo Mission Control.
Space Shuttle CockpitSpace Shuttle Cockpit
Space Shuttle Cockpit

A bit complicated to say the least.
Astronaut TrainingAstronaut Training
Astronaut Training

Not a lot of training at the moment.
Saturn Five RocketSaturn Five Rocket
Saturn Five Rocket

Absolutely huge (and real, not a mock-up).
Space Center HoustonSpace Center Houston
Space Center Houston

Aircraft at the entrance to the Space Center at dusk.
Space ArtSpace Art
Space Art

One of the many space related sculptures along the path to our hotel.


Tot: 0.068s; Tpl: 0.012s; cc: 19; qc: 36; dbt: 0.0301s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.1mb