NASA Johnson Space Center
What better subject can you think of for a "How It's Made" article on my blog about exploring, than spaceflight? How they make people able to survive in and explore space. YAS. I repeat: YAS.
I was excited to find that Houston is home to the NASA Johnson Space Center—literally, the location they're talking about when they say (fun fact—this is a misquote) "Houston, we have a problem," in every nerd movie since Apollo 13. It's the location of Mission Control, and the campus where NASA monitors space missions and trains astronauts for missions.
A surprising amount of exhibitions are opened up to visitors, from a museum of artifacts and replicas, to many of the spaces still in use for the of space. Being a museum nerd, I was impressed with the design of the exhibitions and the way that they were presented for science novices like myself, as I and I suspect many others (including the rampant kindergartners present) tend to be much more interested in the general principles of science than its details. Ditto engineering. Pictures of this trippy science other-world that they've created below!
It's the historic mission control! You see the current version during this tour as well, but I think when we picture a space launch, we have this deliciously 60s space in mind. It's the location of control for nine Gemini and all Apollo Missions, including that one where we landed on the moon (for those who also didn't remember the number, it's 11.)
Saturn V is the heaviest, tallest, and most powerful rocket launched by NASA. Between 1967-73 these rockets had 13 launches that propelled 27 astronauts into space on 6 different missions. If you get the chance to visit the Space Center, they also have an exhibition detailing the missions and the astronauts that powered them in this space.
The Starship Gallery is their delightful name for the main exhibition space, which holds a collection of ephemera from astral missions, as well as a series of historic dioramas. There are mustachioed dolls in space suits* suspended in air all throughout the space, and the lighting is super dramatic. There's also a lab where you can touch a lunar sample.
Pictured below is a Boing carrier aircraft with a replica of the Independence shuttle strapped to the top.
*there's also a plastic velociraptor.
I didn't show images from the training center as that's a separate tour which was too crowded to follow the same day as the Saturn V tour, but hopefully I will make it there again shortly and add some images to this post. But also, you should all just go yourselves to the Johnson Space Center, because it's great and unleashes your inner child.