A Day at Johnson Space Center
What happened when the kids and I spent a full day at Johnson Space Center
In Mission: Wanderlust, I write and podcast about our family’s travel adventures and the things that we have learned along the way.
In the six years that we lived in Houston, we did everything could to take in all that the region had to offer. One of the many places we enjoyed visiting was Johnson Space Center. Shortly before we moved back to Indiana, I went back for one more solo trip and wrote about it shortly after.
When the kids and I returned to Houston last summer for a visit, one of the things that they wanted to do was go back to Johnson Space Center for a full day. Since Historic Mission Control had been closed the previous year due to COVID restrictions, I wasn’t going to complain about a chance to go back with the kids one last time to finally see everything the Space Center has to offer.
We didn’t regret it.
There had been some changes from the previous year when I had visited on my own. The first big difference was the completed Artemis mission exhibit highlighting the return mission to the moon.
The whole exhibit includes experiences for kids to learn more about everything that went into planning the first mission and following missions and includes several hands-on activities. It was fascinating to learn about the all-woman crew that would be making the first return to the moon in over fifty years.
I followed both kids around as they read displays, tried the hands-on activities, and headed upstairs to the area specially designed for kids, which was still undergoing some changes.
After making sure we had reservations for the tour of mission control, we headed into the museum and Starship Gallery and then out to Independence Plaza to look at the replica shuttle Independence and the SpaceX Falcon 9.Unlike my trip in February the previous spring, we were visiting the outdoor facilities in the summer and none of us wanted to spend much time outside. We quickly went through the outdoor exhibits so we could get back into the air conditioning just in time to board our shuttle for Mission Control.
Mission Control had been my dream from the first time we visited the Space Center. The first time we visited with my parents we chose to go to the training facility. The next time I visited, Mission Control was closed. This time, with COVID restrictions lifted, we could finally visit the fully refurbished Historic Mission Control, located directly above current Mission Control. I couldn’t contain my excitement.
Families and scientists watched missions from the very seats that we sat in. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg sat in every single seat as they did their research for Apollo 13. The ashtrays on the back of every seat are still full of 50-year-old ashes. And from our seats inside, we watched a complete reenactment of the first moon landing, just as those inside the room witnessed it. For a short period of time, we stepped back into history to experience it just as people experienced viewing the first space missions.
We got back just in time to head to the training facility and Rocket Park. While there weren’t a lot of people training at the moment, we still got to see some of the pieces in use, the Saturn V, and the Apollo 13 statue inside the Rocket Park facility. I also ended up with a tired little boy falling asleep on my shoulder.
We ended our day with a good lunch at the Food Lab, which was under renovation when I visited in February 2021. The food was good and we enjoyed a few stops there so we could stay on the grounds to get our fill of pretty much everything we possibly could at the Space Center.
While we will probably return to Houston occasionally over the next several years so we can visit friends, I think it is safe to say that we have done everything we possibly could while visiting Johnson Space Center. It was definitely worth one last visit during our return trip to Texas.
The YouTube summary of our trip to Johnson Space Center can be found here:
Please “like” by clicking on the ❤ and share this post with your friends so that others can join me on the journey.
On the Journey is a reader-supported publication. To never miss a post and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Even before COVID restrictions were put into place, immediately getting reservations for the shuttle rides to both the training facility and Mission Control was essential. Since you can’t reserve off site, you need to take care of that upon arrival.