Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NASA Space Center in Houston, TX

Our first day here in Brazos SP was actually spent at the NASA Space Center in Houston.  One of the reasons we chose this park was it proximity to the space center.  We had signed up for a VIP tour and were not disappointed!  Even if you are not the nerdy type;) this tour is impressive and yes, very informative!

We throughly enjoyed it especially as our tour guide was retired from working in the Mission Control Center and he had been there for much of our space history.  David Cisco even wrote a book about his experiences called 'Full Circle' if anyone is interested.

Mural painted by astronaut Alan Bean (one of the moon walkers)
The "pool" in the Natural Buoyancy Lab is where astronauts learn how to repair the space station (SS) on actual life size sections:  

you can see an assist diver in the clear water
 We could see an astronaut in training ( in the white suit) on a monitor as she worked below

 We got to walk down on the floor in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility where the astronauts learn how everything inside the SS works and how to live in the SS for 6 months!  All of the sections of the SS are in this facility in actual size.

 The Soyuz capsule below is what carries the astronauts up to the SS

 Here we are inside the guts of the space shuttle.  Still an amazing thing to learn about though that program is finished.
 Then we got to go into Mission Control!

 In the top monitor showing the world, you can see the SS just below Africa moving towards Australia
There is always an astronaut in the room sitting at the CAPCOM desk during waking hours and she (or he) is the only one in the room with direct access to the SS on the phone she is holding
 Moving closer to Australia.....
 These two monitors show the SS moving into full sunlight.....

It was fascinating to sit and watch the movements of the SS and I think everyone in the room was feeling the same sense of awe. When we left the control center, most of the staff had gone home because it was time for the astronauts aboard to go to bed.  The SS sees 16 sunrises and sunsets every day!  The astronauts try to keep to a "normal" 24 hour schedule though;)
 We were then taken to the old Apollo Era Mission Control Center which sits above the 2 story main frame computer of the day;)  This is where we put a man on the moon.  On the consul below, you can see the small round speaker in the lower left corner from which the control center heard Armstrong telling the world that "the eagle has landed"

 Finally, we walked through the hanger housing Apollo 18, the last of the Saturn rockets, never used as we stopped the moon landing program at Apollo 17.  Wow!  To see the entire rocket with the separate stages was very impressive!

 In front of the space center work to finish the display of the piggy backed shuttle is almost complete....also very impressive!!!