Space Center Houston
The Space Center is a great place to visit. (Far better than a Funeral Museum…) There is a huge museum with more information than you could ever process… lots of actual spacecraft and lots of replicas.
Even before you enter, there is fun available! Here is an enhanced selfie, where I could digitally don a helmet, to fit in with the dude in the gold face mask.
Inside we met a little more accurate suit… and I’m in this picture as well. (If you look carefully at the reflection you’ll see this is another selfie)
It’s not all just museum exhibits. We toured a very large building that housed mockups for space station components, future spacecraft, and lots of other stuff I have no idea what it is. We proceeded along a very high walkway, with windows so we could see people working with all the amazing stuff below.
This thing looked like it was in distress… if you just added some eyebrows it would look almost panicked!
A few Robonauts were being tested – you could see the guy working on his computer, but he wasn’t making them do anything for us. The one we saw first had a very feminine shape, which somewhat surprised me, and then we saw this one, which we were told was newly arrived, looking like a muscular male, and all wrapped up in frilly pink plastic. Whatever.
Here are mockups of the next generation Orion spacecraft and space station. They say these are for a return to the moon, and then to Mars.
Here I get to pose with a feminine robot.
The Saturn V rocket has been NASA’s workhorse for a long time. The size of this thing is hard to believe, or describe for that matter. There is no way I could photograph it in its enormity, but I will say the building that housed it felt a half mile long.
Nice to know the current weather on Mars.
A section is devoted to U.S. space travel history. I remember the Mercury capsules, which took our first American into space, and later the first earth orbit. I never realized, or appreciated, how each mission was a stepping stone towards landing on the moon. Every mission tested new ideas or techniques, and tried to solve problems or answer questions encountered on previous missions.
Then of course were the Gemini missions, and Apollo, and eventually the moon landing.
And what fun would it be to get somewhere without a cool car to tool around in??
The Space Shuttle Independence (replica) sits on a 747 (real) as if ready to be transported back across the country. I had always thought it was pretty amazing that a 747 could support this huge craft on its back. They gutted most of the seats, galleys, heads, and more to save weight, but then tons of scrap metal was placed where the main deck first class seats would have been to get the weight and balance correct. Before the Shuttle would do its own powered flights, they had to see if it could really be landed as planned. Every Shuttle landing was a “dead-stick” landing; no power, no go-around or second chance. They tested the landing capability by launching on the 747, then separating the two planes mid-air. In addition to the question of landing ability, there was the concern that the Shuttle would take the tail off the 747 on separation. I guess you realize all went well, and the Shuttle flew for much longer than was originally expected. (and the 747 has done that as well)
Here is a shot of the 747-Shuttle leaving us behind… ok, a picture of a picture.
Before this Space Center visit, I’d never been able to sit in a Space Shuttle cockpit. And I still haven’t. Sigh. But I got some pictures.
The cargo bay of the Shuttle is really huge; you can walk down the center, or look down from the flight deck above, near where my masked copilot is sitting.
Northlake RV Resort
We’ve had pretty nice weather here in Houston. This is our campground again… bet you can’t find our rig! (I can’t either… it’s hidden behind some rigs on the left)
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
The Arboretum is filled with hiking trails wandering through the woods. It is fairly close to the metro center, and makes you wonder as you wander – would all of Houston look like this if they had never built all those buildings??
I don’t know what this plant is, but with its wispy soft purple fronds, it looked almost otherworldy.
Some places had boardwalks, some places bridges, and one bridge had eyes!