LB Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
Today we woke early but not as early as we had been. The Space Center doesn't open to 10am to the public, except the rocket park which opens at 9am. So we started the morning looking at the rocket park and getting clues to the final stage of a geocache, after that we drove to the space center and mom and dad went to pick up a geocache as I went for a photo of the entrance sign. After we got to the space center we walked around for a little bit and explored, went to the gift shop, which I might add was probably not the smartest thing I did. Although Figgy came out with a new place mat and food and water dishes. We picked up our V.I.P. badges for the Level 9 tour and went for our security pictures and then boarded the van for the tour of the space center. The first stop was lunch in the astronaut and employee cafeteria during which we encountered an astronaut for STS-131
. After that they took us to Hanger X where they are working on designing the moon's bases, housing for the moon. They then took us to Ellington Field, where the astronauts do some of their training with the T-38 Talons and the NKC-145 (aka Vomit Comet), but most of all the Sonny Carter Training Facility, or known as the neutral buoyancy tank. Which is the large swimming pool 45 feet deep, complete with nitrox breathing tanks and decompression chamber. There we saw the crew of the STS-129, Cmdr Charlie Hobaugh, pilot Barry Wilmore, Leland Melvin, Mike Foreman, Robert Satcher and Randy Bresnik, all mission specialists. In the tank were Robert Satcher and Mike Foreman. I have some interesting pictures of that. We then went to Mission Control where we saw 3 control rooms, the first room was the Space Shuttle Command Center where they we in practice runs for the STS-129 mission, we then went to the old ISS mission control center, and then the current ISS (International Space Station) control room where we witnessed a sunrise from the ISS on the monitors and watched the change of shifts as the control center needs to be staffed 24/7. They had 2 flight directors on scene. They then took us to the historic Mission Control Room where Mercury, Gemini and Apollo were controlled from. The next stop was the Space Vehicle Mock Up Facility where all the simulators were run out off. While we did not see any actual practice runs occurring we did see the simulators up close, closer than those that went on the free tram tour
. We did see a lot on this trip, and if I sound blaise' it's not that it was boring, it's just that my experiences and knowledge left me less than challenged. I can't expect this to compete with seeing the shuttle on the launch pad, or all the experiences at Space Camp and Space Academy, but seeing Mission Control up close and actually running was cool. The last stop for the day was the rocket park and we just kind of tagged along despite doing it earlier in the day, when we got back it was closing time for the space center so we parted our way's and went for supper and picked up a few geocaches. Tomorrow we will go back to the space center to view what we did not get to see and then head to Padre Island National Seashore and Corpus Christi. We were originally slated to spend all day tomorrow at the space center and spend another night here in Houston but we accomplished more than planned and so we rearranged plans.