Space Center Houston (Johnson Space Center)
While there are myriad points of interest within the Space Center Houston -- like collections of used spacesuits, galleries of crew photos, space station simulations, space theaters and IMAX films -- there are a few must-have experiences. First is the NASA Tram Tour, which takes visitors to the iconic Apollo Mission Control Center, the place where all space shuttle missions and activity onboard international space station assembly flights is directed. The tour also visits the Saturn V Complex at Rocket Park, where you can see an expendable rocket used by NASA’s Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 to 1973. If you’re lucky, the tour will also bring you behind the scenes and learn what training to be an astronaut is really like.
The Starship Gallery is another top attraction within the Space Center Houston. It is where you’ll find the most interesting artifacts and exhibits, like the world’s largest collection of moon rocks, as well as space hardware like the Mercury Atlas 8 “Faith 7” capsule, the Gemini V Spacecraft, a Lunar Roving Vehicle Trainer, the Apollo 17 Command Module, the Skylab Trainer, the Apollo-Soyuz Trainer and an original model of the Goddard Rocket.
While anyone can appreciate the offerings at Space Center Houston, the attraction is especially worthwhile for families. For example, they offer a “Lunch With An Astronaut” program on Fridays at noon where families can dine with a real astronaut and hear a firsthand account of what space is like. There is also a Kids Space Place, a space-themed play area.