We spent just 3 hours this morning at the Space Center Houston, a must stop destination if you are passing through Houston. Like Pensacola, we wished we had allotted a lot more time for this visit. Aided by a wonderful website, and eager volunteer greeter, we charted our course to make the most of our time. But again we left wishing we had spent more time learning about the history and future of our space program.
After paying a $6 parking fee, we spotted the shuttle next to the museum entrance. We found a large RV/Bus parking lot which can easily accommodate the largest rig. The admission fee ranges from $19.95 to $24.95, and like most attractions of this kind, it is best to plan your visit to start early in the day.
Given our self-imposed time constraints, we chose to skip the outdoor tram ride and focused instead on Starship Gallery, the Shuttle Mock-up, Astronaut Gallery, and featured film “Journey to Space”. All the exhibits are very well documented, and many permitted you to get into the training modules, an actual space shuttle, or up close to the astronauts’ space suits.
One item that caught my eye, was the space station’s toilet, which seemed rather small … even by our motor home’s standards. The shower was also fun to see and reminded me just how luxurious our RV lifestyle really is.
I wish we had spent time in the flight simulators, watching another film on the mission to Mars, or taking the 90 minute tram ride. There is also a restaurant and gift shop, so you can easily make this an all day excursion.
Though our time was limited, I came away with two very strong observations:
- The international space station has somehow brought together the very best efforts of “competing” and sometime “conflicting” nations toward a common goal; and
- It is amazing how the far the space program came during the 1960’s. I was only seven years old when President Kennedy proclaimed, “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” On May 5, 1961 Alan Shepard boarded Freedom 7 for a 15 minute flight at an altitude of 116 miles. Just ten years later, he was playing golf on the moon. When I saw the detailed timeline, observed multiple missions that occurred year after year, I realized just how much we can accomplish.
“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, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win. ― John F. Kennedy
Of course I also realized that there are a lot of people a whole lot smarter than me. But then again I am reminded of that fact every time I listen to “Science Friday” on NPR.