This is one of those posts in which we’re jealous of the Little Mail Carriers, because they’re doing all the cool things in our bucket list… 🙄
Some time ago, Cathy (aka beesknees) offered to take them on a visit to the Space Center in Houston, and who could refuse an invitation like that?! The little ones couldn’t get on a padded envelope fast enough in their eagerness to get to Texas! I’m sure you’re just as curious as we were to know about their trip, so here they are to tell us about that adventure.
Hello from Houston… or as they say it around here, howdy! 👋 We’re super excited for today’s visit, and to show you all the rockets and cool things happening here at the Space Center.
But first, a bit of explaining. The Space Center Houston is the visiting center of the NASA Johnson Space Center (or JSC for short), where human spaceflight training, research, and flight control are conducted. The JSC was built in 1961, and named after the late US president and Texas native, Lyndon B. Johnson, and has been running for over six decades now. When Neil Armstrong said “Houston, the eagle has landed” in 1969, or when Apollo 13 astronauts famously said "Houston, we have a problem" — this is the Houston they were referring to!
So the Space Center is a bit like a museum to showcase all the history and cool stuff that happened (and is still happening!) at the JSC, and we’re eager to explore everything. Even before you enter the building, there’s neat things to see!
Check out this amazing replica of Space Shuttle Independence, sitting on top of the original Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 905! Because shuttles don’t land in the same place where they take off from, carriers are needed to bring them back. Carriers start out as normal Boeing 747 planes, but they are modified to transport shuttles on top of them. A plane carrying a plane on its back! 🤯
… or Saturn V, a “super heavy-lift launch vehicle” (aka the big part that spews fire and sends things into orbit)! It’s hard to convey how massive this thing is. In fact, it is the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket used to send humans into space and was regularly used during the Apollo moon program. It has three parts (or stages) that separate at different times, and although the bits here at the Space Center did not make it into space, they were definitely ready to!
Right, it’s time to go see the exhibitions, learn about the different space missions and meet some astronauts inside.
Here are astronauts Shannon Walker from the USA, and Soichi Noguchi from Japan. They have both been in several missions to space, using different kinds of spacecrafts — including the Dragon 2 capsule for the SpaceX Crew-1 mission. Mr. Noguchi retired this year and is now the honorary director of the CupNoodles Museum. Honestly, we’re a bit jealous of him because how seriously cool is that for a career pivot!
One thing you can explore in the museum are the high-tech spacesuits that several astronauts wore on their missions, and how these have changed over the years. And you can also check out the inside of a command module, which is the control center and living quarters for most of the lunar missions. It looks quite tight for the humans in there, but I think it would be plenty of space for us.
We were especially intrigued by the red planet and the missions that made it there! Feeling the textures of a real Mars rock on our feet was a unique experience. Do you think humans will make it to Mars soon? We hope so… then perhaps we can slip into someone’s pocket, and have an adventure in space!
Because the museum is right in the Johnson Space Center, you can see actual space things happening there — like astronauts training in simulators, or the real Mission Control room monitoring astronauts in the International Space Station. Just… wow!
Before leaving, there was still time to salute Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. USPS has issued a stamp in her honor, and we used it to stamp our little passport. We also added a pressed penny from the Space Center, and browsed the postcards on the gift shop on our way out.
And so our visit has come to its end, and we’re a little sad to go… There’s so much to see and learn here at the Space Center in Houston, and we really hope y’all will be able to visit someday!
Our huge thank you to Cathy for taking the little guys on this grand adventure! I wonder where they will end up next… 🤔