Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Day 31 - Johnson Space Center

We visited the NASA facility for all manned space flights located south east of Houston. It was an almost two hour drive from the RV park and we needed to go through downtown Houston. We went on the tour and the first stop was a training facility. This was the most basic one as it doesn’t match the ISS. Mostly just familiarization with where things are. 

This is Artemis, a proposed moon landing vehicle, being used for development. It seems small. 

Here is a mockup of the Orion capsule being developed by Boeing. I thought it was interesting that there was little or no mention of SpaceX. All of the displays talking about future manned missions seemed to focus on the Boeing vehicle. I think it’s because it’s familiar. More of the same old thing.

We then went to the Saturn V building housing the actual launch vehicle for the cancelled Apollo XVIII. Not a model or a mockup. It is housed in it’s own building right next to Rocket Park where there is a Redstone rocket used on the Mercury missions and a test vehicle for the emergency rockets for Gemini. It’s amazing to see the size difference between the Redstone and the Saturn V. BTW, the five stands for the number of engines on the first stage.

Within the visitor’s center, there was a nice mockup of a moon landing. There was a room with numerous moon rocks as well as a history of space suits including one still coated with moon dust. Very dusty. There was an excellent movie on the history of manned space flights including mention of both the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

Outside, was one of the 747s used to ferry the Space Shuttle from its landing spot back to Florida. The landing sites were usually Edwards Air Force Base or White Sands. Many of the later missions used the landing strip right at Cape Canaveral which simplified getting the shuttle ready for its next flight.

The snack bar was closed in the visitor’s center so we stopped at Buc-ee’s for a late lunch. We needed to fill the car up anyway. If you aren’t familiar with this Texas chain, there are lots of pumps and the little market is larger than many grocery stores.


8 comments:

redlegsrides said...

Sounds like a cool place to visit and learn! I'm thinking perhaps SpaceX wasn't featured prominently since they're a competitor to Boeing and Boeing was probably a large donor? Or, perhaps, since SpaceX stuff is re-usable, not much available to display?

Geoff James said...

I would so like to visit the US and go to the Space Centre, Canaveral, the Aircraft Graveyard in Arizona and the Smithsonian. They were on my bucket list but sadly, a visit might be right off the menu now.

RichardM said...

I think you’re right on about the SpaceX-Boeing thing.

RichardM said...

One of these years travel will return...

david R said...

Nice place, need to put that on our visit list. I watched the Blue Origin launch and landing today.

RichardM said...

It changed a lot since the last time I was here.

SonjaM said...

Cool venue. Have been to Cape Canaveral back in the 90's when visiting Florida and was left very impressed (as a sci-fi fan anyway). Lucky you, being able to do some sightseeing...

RichardM said...

Not a lot of sightseeing. Visiting with CCJon and the Space Center was about it for the last couple of weeks. The FL location is much larger and more comprehensive than the TX center.