Saturday, 21 November 2015

Our Adventure to Houston

A three hour bus trip did not deter us as we set off from Austin bound for the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.

It was a very early morning but the boys managed to rouse themselves after a very late night.  We took a cab to the Greyhound bus station and hopped on our coach. We were just a few minutes late but late enough that we had to wait 45 minutes for the next connecting bus. This one took us directly to the Space Center though.

We only had a short time at the Center but we were blown away by what we saw. Space suits, moon rocks, tools, capsules, engines and a new attraction outside - a real 747 with a full-size space shuttle replica on its back. They are still building the gantry tower alongside. Soon you'll be able to walk right up to the aircraft and shuttle.

Inside is a mix of authentic and recreated space memorabilia from the past 52 years. One of my personal favourites was the Apollo mission capsule mounted open so you can see how the astronauts were sitting together when they splashed down. You can touch the open door and, get you hand in behind the perspex cover and touch a door handle that has been touched by astronauts.

We hopped the tram tour and went through the working NASA Space Center. First, Mission Control! The room is preserved the way it was in the 1960s. The current Mission Control is located immediately underneath. We sat in the VIP gallery where families of the astronauts, presidents and other very important people have sat.

Next was the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility where they house capsules, shuttle cockpits, a full-sized International Space Station mockup, rover vehicles, robotics and zero gravity training equipment. The gear is there for astronaut training but also for engineering and design teams to work together in the planning of new equipment and testing repairs to existing, orbitting equipment.

From there we headed back to Rocket Park where, alongside actual test rockets, engines and rocket gantries, there sits a used Saturn 5 rocket, restored and displayed. I had no idea these things were quite that big!

Like I said, we didn't have enough time at the Center but it is one visit we shall never forget. We arrived back at Greyhound at exactly the right time only to find out our bus home has been delayed at least 45 minutes. Life is just full of adventure...

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