NASA Space Center Houston

We made it to Houston! It was a long drive with lots of stops for a conference call, candy outlet, lunch, potty breaks, etc but we finally made it. We were glad to get settled into our room. The kids had fun climbing on our suitcases and jumping on the beds. You just got to get the wiggles out somehow.

We don't stay in hotels often so laugh at me, if you must, but I really liked that the hotel had different kinds of pillows and that the pillow cases said, "soft" and "firm". Yes, I'm really just excited to be here so I'll take a picture of anything!

We were happy to finally make it over to the NASA Space Center.

Nicholas was particularly excited about the Star Wars Clone Wars exhibit. Cool!

We visited Blast Off Theater where we were rocketed off to the International Space Station. Then we were brought into the Mission Status Center to hear about explorations on Mars and the shuttle missions.

I was glad to hear that they were upfront with the public about the Obama administration putting an end to shuttle missions and the unknown future of NASA. I can't believe this hasn't been more widely publicized to people but I better not get started on that because it would be a blog post all it's own.

We enjoyed the Living in Space modules that show how people in shuttles sleep and eat while in space and how it must feel to be in space. We took a tour inside a space shuttle.

The space shuttle cockpit...

...and future astronaut, Nicholas, at the helm!

Yes, those are my kids trying to climb the interior wall of the space shuttle. And the funny thing is - this time it wasn't the 6 year old boy who initiated it. I've just got two wild and crazy climbers for kids.

The kids really loved all of the interactive stations from landing a shuttle to controlling a Mars Rover.

The kids also loved Kids Space sponsored by our dear friends at Pepsi. It is a huge climbing structure complete with multiple giant slides and space play stations. I got in it a little while trying to keep up with Rachel and it was quite impressive.

This morning we headed back over to a different part of NASA to visit Rocket Park where the Saturn V rocket and other rockets are housed. This rocket carried the 45-ton Apollo spacecraft on Earth orbital and lunar missions and it also launched the 120-ton Skylab into orbit. It was in use between 1967-1973.

The Saturn V is one of three surviving vehicles built to launch American astronauts into space. At 363 feet long, it is one of the largest and most significant artifacts in the NASA collection.

Nicholas next to an F-1 Engine. What a powerful engine this is!

A cluster of 5 F-1 engines provided the power of the 1st stage of the Saturn V launch vehicle. The engines were powered for 2 1/2 minutes lifting the Saturn V to an altitude of about 41 miles and a speed of about 6,000 mph. Each engine weighs 15,650 pounds and developed a thrust of 1,500,000 pounds.

We enjoyed looking at the wall commemorating the previous space shuttle missions. There were great pictures, information about the missions, and the astronauts on board. So much wonderful information and history here.

At the end of the commemorative wall, there is a blank panel waiting for info on the next historic shuttle mission. Sadly, I've heard that the administration will be ceasing space shuttle missions and the final flight of the three-decade-old space shuttle program will occur in February 2011 so who knows what will go on that blank panel?

The first astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, rode a Mercury-Redstone named Freedom 7 on a suborbital flight in 1961.

I love space exploration and I love NASA. We've really enjoyed our visit to the Space Center and Nicholas has learned a lot during the visit. He also got a space shuttle of his own. He won't put it down for a minute so I think he likes it!

One of NASA's missions has always been to foster the next generation of explorers by encouraging students to study math and science and increasing educational and outreach opportunities. What better way to teach children about math, science, and space exploration than by providing them with a fun and interactive place like Space Center Houston and Rocket Park. I just pray that with the current issues facing NASA that places like the Space Center will continue to exist and we will be able to continue exploration for generations to come.

Space Center Houston is located at 1601 NASA Parkway (formerly NASA Rd. 1), Houston, TX 77058, approximately 25 miles south of downtown Houston in the NASA/Clear Lake area.

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