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Space Center Houston - Houston, Texas

Dear Travel Diary,

While our visit to Space Center Houston took place in October 2015, I felt I had done the experience a disservice by not discussing it at length. I posted a round-up of our trip to Houston here.

More than 18 million people have visited since its opening in October 1992, and the facility hosts more than 1 million visitors annually. Upon entering the site, you're greeted by this replica. When we visited, it was not yet open for tours, so it means we're due for a return visit.

At over 250,000-square feet, the complex is massive. It's also a Smithsonian Affiliate, with its mission as an educational center to highlight all eras of U.S. space travel via exhibits, tours and attractions. Naturally, it's focus is on STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and utilizes space exploration to inspire interest and wonder in these subjects.

Space Center Houston features more than 400 space artifacts, including the world's largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples.

Of course, I was drawn to the chronological history of the U.S. space program.

There are two tours offered at an additional charge - one takes you through an active work shop, a rocket graveyard of sorts, and the location of the Saturn V rocket; the other is of Mission Control. Due to a time restriction, we opted to not participate in the tour of Mission Control, so we have another reason to return.

(This and the following sequence of photographs were taken in the active workshop we toured.)

(The rocket graveyard ...)

(The Saturn V is so huge, it's impossible to get it all in frame.)

I will never forget how small I felt standing beside this behemoth, simultaneously in awe of the fact that this touched our atmosphere and outer space. Does every kid dream of experiencing such a thing? To this day, the idea still ignites my curiosity.

To have this access to the NASA Johnson Space Center was very interesting.

A brief history - first established as the Manned Spacecraft Center in 1961, the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) is responsible for the design, development and operation of human space flight. For more than 40 years, JSC (the name was changed to this in 1973) has been the leader in human space flight operations for NASA.

Currently, it is the training base and home for our nation's astronauts and the site of Mission Control. Space missions are launched from Cape Canaveral, FL, which I had the opportunity to visit and tour when I was 14. I would highly recommend experiencing both.

If you go:
1601 E NASA Parkway, Houston
Tickets: $30 Adults, $25 Children

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