Have you ever wanted to know what’s like to be an astronaut?
Space Center Houston’s got everything to help you become a space enthusiast.
I’ve grown up in the Houston metropolitan area, but I have never visited Space Center Houston before. I imagined more of a quiet environment inside, where one could look at old space relics of the past. While it has elements of a museum-like experience; to my surprise, it’s also a very interactive museum, like the Houston Children’s Museum, where you can touch and experience all sorts of cool things.
After paying $5 for parking, you’ll pay another entrance fee at a booth right outside. If you’re flying into George Bush Intercontinental Airport, stop by the information center at baggage claim, where you can pick up a free Houston city guide map. Inside the brochure, you’ll see a $5 off coupon that can be applied per ticket for up to six people. If you don’t get a chance to pick up one, you best bet is to pay ahead of time online to receive the $5 discount per ticket. Of course, if you’re planning to visit several other attractions in Houston, it might be a good idea to purchase a City Pass, which offers discounts from a set group of attractions in Houston.
An Interactive Experience
The lack of parking space was enough to tell me that people were not deterred from visiting Space Center Houston after Christmas.
Space Center Houston also had a special exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion. If you haven’t seen this exhibit, it’s definitely worth a look. Your kids will enjoy turning and pulling different apparatuses. Since we had already seen many of the same inventions at the da Vinci Exhibit in Limassol, Cyprus, we passed by this one. I dare say the da Vinci exhibit in Cyprus was much better because they gave you the full da Vinci machine experience. There was one machine that allowed you to move water at the turn of a handle, which was Piano Man’s favorite. Unfortunately, the same invention at Space Center Houston contained no water. You had to imagine how da Vinci’s invention moved water from one location to another.
Our first stop – the Angry Birds Space exhibit.
If your kids had enough of Angry Birds, they could unwind at the Mars Rover model building area or go down a two-story spiral slide.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like a remotely drive a Mars Rover? You can go and test drive one yourself on the second-level. Then if you go down to the first-level, you can see one or both Mars Rovers being driven around.
Space Center Houston offers a free science show that makes learning about science cool.
In addition to the interactive experience, you can take in plenty of history and look at some very real space equipment. For example, did you ever want to know what it would be like to shower or sleep in space? I think you’d have to be very comfortable in tight quarters to survive. Wouldn’t you agree?
We watched a quick 15 to 20-minute video on the history of the U.S. space program – everything from its successful missions as well as the two most difficult moments, Space Shuttle Challenger (1986) and Space Shuttle Columbia (2003). It brought a few tears to my eyes to watch those moments again. I was a very young girl when the news came regarding Space Shuttle Challenger’s explosion. My teacher shared the news to us during class, and we were all in a state of confusion and disbelief. Everyone expected it to be another “regular” mission into space, but it wasn’t. It was anything but.
For our younger generation, they will only know and understand Space Shuttle Challenger’s in-flight explosion as a piece of history learned in books and in the classroom. Even Linus could tell there was a change in music and moment during the video. For such a young person, he noticed the sadness on the faces of those men and women who witnessed such a tragic event in space history. The video ended with hope and a renewed spirit to work hard and strive for further progress in investigating and researching into space.
We watched a second video and presentation on the history of the Mars Rover program. Thankfully, this one was more informational and light hearted as we watched men and women who worked over a decade jump in elated joy over a successful Mars Rover landing. It seemed a bit odd to watch an overly enthusiastic moment; but afterwards, the speaker mentioned the amount of time, work, and dedication they spent on this one landing, when anything and everything could go wrong, it made sense why they were so happy.
Finally, a visit to Space Center Houston wouldn’t be a visit without touching a real space rock!
I don’t know if that rock is ever cleaned, but it’s a real space rock! I touched the rock even though I know it’s been smoothed over by everyone else’s fingers.
There was so much more we could have seen and done at Space Center Houston. But with two little ones, it was a lot to take in. We’ll make another visit someday and ride the very popular 90-minute tram. That’ll probably be the first thing we do next time.