Location: Houston, Texas
Webpage: NASA Space Center
General Description: The Lyndon B Johnson Space Center is NASA center for manned spaceflight that includes much more than just the Mission Control Centers seen on television during the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs. In addition to the Apollo Mission Control Center and Christopher C Kraft Jr Mission Control Center are the Sonny Carter Training Facility, the Neutral Bouyancy Laboratory, Lunar Sample Laboratory, and many other training and testing facilities. The museum has a number of exhibits about the history and future of manned space flight. Outside is the Independence Space Shuttle that was used to test landing procedures mounted on top of a modified 747 used to transport the Space Shuttle. Both are open to the public with interesting exhibits. There are also two tram rides, one to the training facilities and the other to the testing facilities on the Space Center. Both also end at the best surviving Apollo rocket protected inside a huge building.
1) This is a VERY impressive museum that is a must see for anyone interested in the history and future of our space program. The exhibits within the museum are all interesting and informative with many hands-on exhibits for young children. You get a nice overview of the Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle missions and the challenges ahead of NASA as it plans for missions to Mars.
2) Be sure to plan enough time for the two tram rides, since each take over an hour. Unfortunately, we did not and only had time for one of the two rides. We decided to explore the training facility, which was an interesting tour. You get to see where astronauts train in full size replicas of the future spacecraft. This is also where they test out robots that will be used.
3) Be sure not to miss the space shuttle and 747 outside the museum. You are able to walk inside the space shuttle and get a good sense of the very restricted living space and huge cargo bay. The 747 is also interesting since they stripped out nearly all of the inside of the huge jet in order to carry the space shuttle.