NASA’s Houston Space Center has rightly been considered the brains behind the U.S. space mission for nearly 30 years. It is not a competitor, but rather the Texas twin brother of the Korolev Mission Control Center near Moscow. It is from Houston that the moon landings, the Apollo mission (“Houston, we have a problem” has been heard here), the space shuttle programs and the flights to the ISS have all been controlled.
It is a real city within a city: on 650 hectares, one hundred buildings are distributed. NASA’s Space Center prepares astronauts for flight, oversees their work on the ISS, studies space, develops new spacecraft and rocket models – in short, “rules” space from Earth.
All operations up to launch are managed from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and as soon as the rocket takes off, Houston takes over.
A bit of history:
The history of NASA’s Houston Space Center began in the 1961 reference year with the Mercury space mission. In 1963, a full-scale research and development complex appeared here and has been growing ever since. The NASA Center was opened to the public in 1992 and now bears the name of American President Lyndon Johnson, a native Texan.
What to see :
The first thing that greets visitors to the NASA Space Center is a real shuttle, not a replica, but an authentic ship that flew into space. Then your journey continues to the Starship Gallery space museum. The unique space, covered by a giant dome, is literally filled with interesting exhibits: an authentic rocket stage, lunar and Martian rovers, an active Martian rover, a mock-up of a shuttle and spacecraft for transportation in a spaceship and spacewalks.
The highlight of the program is the open space shuttle: you can visit the cockpit and see the instrument panel with many hundreds of buttons, switches and knobs, inspect the lavatory and wardrobe, look into the landing gear compartment and even try to land the shuttle in a super-realistic simulator.
There are fragments of spacecraft damaged by orbital debris in the display cases, and a piece of moon rock you can (and should) touch is on public display.
Then, take a tour of NASA’s Science City in an open-air streetcar. A colossal Boeing with a shuttle on top will greet you in Independence Square. You can visit the hangar with the world’s largest Saturn launch vehicle and peek inside the fuel injectors, see space launch vehicles at the Rocket Museum. Visit the historic Mission Control Center where you will find the control panels from which the lunar mission was directed. It’s also worth visiting the active Mission Control Center, whose staff is always ready to help astronauts on the ISS. The tanks with liquid nitrogen – rocket fuel – and the hangars with all kinds of modules of the International Space Station are incredibly large.