Friday, July 3, 2015

2015 Road Trip, Day 12: Flying Thermos Bottles

 Today was a short-ride day. Our hotel is about 10 minutes from Space Center Houston, part of the Johnson Space Center.

Of course, when we got there somebody needed a restroom, and we found them right next to the tram tours. Since we were already there, we decided to take one of the tours that goes into the Johnson Space Center.  We went to Mission Control.

Our tour took us to the historic Mission Control.  When astronauts are in orbit, there are people monitoring things from the ground 24-7.  As our guide told us, they are never left alone. 

Our tour guide at Mission Control was named Neil.  No, he's not that Neil.  But he knew a lot about taking care of things on the ground.

This room was used until the early 1980s.  It's now a registered National Historic Landmark.

The tram then took us back to the Houston Space Center. 

 Along the way is the Memorial Grove.  On one side of the road are trees dedicated to "regular" employees who made significant contributions to the program.  On the other side is this grove.

The larger trees are dedicated to the crew of the Challenger, which exploded just after lift off on January 20, 1986.  The smaller trees in front are in honor of the Columbia crew who died when their shuttle disintegrated upon re-entry on February 1, 2003. 

Our final stop was Rocket Park.  Outside there are several rockets and space-travel related items.

But the big feature is the Apollo Rocket inside the hangar.

Look, it's Buzz!  (No, not that Buzz. The real one that Buzz Lightyear is named after.) 

Walter Schirra was a member of the Apollo 7 crew.  This made us laugh - it's something that Buzz Lightyear would say.

We skipped the other tram tour and opted for the air-conditioned inside.  There were exhibits on past missions and the future of the space program.

This stands at the front of the auditorium that shows a movie about the history of the space program.
It is the Rice University lectern where President Kennedy stood to give his famous speech that includes the quote:

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..."

So we went to the moon.  These boots even walked on it.

A former shuttle is now a hands-on exhibit.

A prototype of the Orion module, the future of space travel.  The "hard" exploration of this generation will be Mars, but NASA is confident it will happen within the next 15 or so years.  Maybe one of these kids will be on that trip!

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