Houston, we have a problem
Trip Start Nov 01, 2010
48Trip End May 01, 2011
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American roads are really well signposted on the interstates, getting you to leave at the right junction to the attraction that you want to see. However, once you have left, you're on your own! Cue much lane switching on the outskirts of the city trying to find the Space Centre. I think the local drivers must be used to it as we didn't get honked or sworn at once. Either that or they're much more chilled out than us Europeans!
We got to the car park and manged to photograph a few other state plates. Still no Alaska or Hawaii.
The lady at the ticket desk did a grand job of upselling the audio tour to us, so off we went with our confusing maps and our audio tours looking like right tourists! Believe me, we didn't need any more help with that!
We started with the museum, which was brilliant. We saw a film to begin with which showed the history of the American space exploration starting with the Mercury operations. It was very informative and made you feel proud at the same time. The exhibits were good as well. They had some of the space capsules from the older missions including the last Apollo. They had a mock up of the space station which was disorientating to start with because there is no gravity in space so there is no need for a floor or ceiling! They had loads of moon rocks - we got to touch one. It was very smooth, maybe from all the people that have touched it over the years.
We then did a trolley tour of the Johnson Space Centre, which included historic mission control (Houston, we have a problem), the astronaut training centre and Saturn V rocket. The historic mission control was good - a lady told us that when they first moved the control centre to Houston they sent people into space on the same storage capacity as 2 digital photos. Amazing!! The viewing gallery confused Martyn - he first thought it had been put in for the tourists, but we were told that its always been there for the families of the astronauts and presidents etc whilst missions were carried out. Even the Queen's sat in there! The Saturn V rocket was immense - the hangar that housed it was as big as hangars 1&2 at Flybe. For all you non-flybers, they can fit 4 737s in there!! It was shown in the 3 sections which break off as the rockets ascends into space
We did a talk (in the Blast Off theatre) that told us about the future of the American space exploration. We learned that the space station will be complete by next year and the shuttle will be retired. These rockets have been flying for 30 years and have flown a ridiculous number of miles! It felt quite sad that the world's space exploration will be slowed down and that there isn't much planned after 2011. I think it's more to do with lack of funding rather than the lack of wanting to explore. Throughout the presentation, the guy was flicking between different screens showing us the live video feed from mission control and where the space station was over Earth at any one time. The talk was up-to-date as he was telling us that the latest mission had been delayed due to a crack in the fuel tank. It was now scheduled for 3rd December taking off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
I would highly recommend the Space Centre, especially for kids as there were loads of interactive exhibits. There was lots of stuff for adults too and it's only a little bit geeky! Martyn enjoyed it in the end and was glad that I had manged to twist his arm!