Thursday, April 8, 2010

Johnson Space Center

Johnson Space Center was the adventure for today. It is about a half hour’s drive up I-45 and it was a sunny but cool morning when we set out after a pit stop at the Waffle House. We made a slight error and tried to drive in the employees entrance where we were set straight by several friendly (but heavily armed) security people. We got to the correct entrance and paid our $5 parking and $18 each (after a 10% AAA discount). We entered the main building and headed for the Tram Tour of the grounds. Here we went through security much tougher than any airport I have been in. I emptied my pockets and walked through the scanner which alarmed. I took off my watch and gold bracelet and tried again. Alarm. A security guy came over and told me to take off my belt and this time I got through. This happened to many people so it was a slow process to fill the tram.

The tour was interesting in a way but all it was was the pointing out of various unmarked buildings with a brief explanation of what went on in each. As the buildings were unmarked, they may or may not have been what he said… I had really hoped to see the old Mission Control room from the Apollo days but it was off limits like almost everything.

We did get to see and touch a real Saturn V rocket like the one used in the Apollo Program and we went in one huge building where mock-ups of the shuttle and Sky Lab were located. These mock-ups are used to train astronauts before the actual missions. They are identical to the real things in every way. The tram then dropped us off at the main building.

This building was filled with displays but nothing “real”. There was a copy of the Shuttle crew compartment and flight deck we could look at but the labels were removed from all the controls. It did not make it very interesting for a person interested in the technology of the program. The rest of the building was mainly video games where you could pretend to dock or land the shuttle. Even the young kids who were used to games were crashing every time. To be truthful, I was disappointed and thought the day was a waste of money for what we got. Perhaps my expectations were too high.

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Saturn V (a real one!)

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Shuttle Flight Deck (sans marked controls)


1 comment:

  1. That's really odd. When we went through the Space Center in February we got to view Mission Control. There was a docent to talk about the days when it was in use; talked about the way the only computer was a slide rule; stuff like that. Sorry you didn't get to see it because I agree it was the high point of our visit.

    Hope you didn't eat there; we thought it was awful!