National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Below is a post by guest blogger Paul:

Most people who come to Houston want to visit NASA (we certainly did), for one reason or another it’s one of the things this city is known for.

The first time we went there, we weren’t sure what to expect but now having taken countless visitors on the 45 minute journey down the I-45 and onto NASA Parkway, a few observations may be useful for any first-time tourists and the curious.

First and foremost, no rockets blast off from Houston. People (including us) are usually a little disappointed with that piece of information. The big launches you’re thinking of happen at Cape Canaveral in Florida, site of the Kennedy Space Center.

The Johnson Space Center in Houston, also known as Space Center Houston is the location of some really cool stuff but you’re not going to stumble on a shuttle launch, sorry.

Tickets at the booth are $22.95 for adults and $18.95 for kids aged 4-11 but you get a $5 discount if you purchase online, so do that. Also, paying a few (3) extra dollars gets you an annual membership which is definitely worth ponying up for if you’re going to be hosting people and visiting more than once. You also get a photo membership card that the kids, or Dads, will dig.

Space nerds are going to want to jump online and book the Level 9 tour which costs $89.95 (includes entry).  It is limited to 12 people per day and gives you about five hours of behind the scenes tour that few people get to see. Check out http://spacecenter.org/Level9Tour.html for more details.

JSC is essentially a big campus comprising some really boring looking buildings amongst a very tired landscape. It’s what goes on in those buildings that is special and significant to the human race.

Rocket ParkA tram tour is available (be aware that wait times can be annoying and security screening is necessary) that is probably the biggest draw of a day at the JSC. You get a look at Mission Control, of which there are several and what you see is generally operational, the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility which usually has something going on (think space shuttles, international space station, vehicles, gadgets, etc) and the last thing you do on the tour is visiting Rocket Park.

Without spoiling the awesome, Rocket Park is where a Saturn V rocket is housed in a shed along with a selection of interesting historic rockets and factoids. For most, this is worth the price of admission alone.

At the main visitor facility you’ll find souvenir stores, a food court and some fun stuff for the kids to play on. There are also simulators, demonstrations and a theater that will give you a briefing on what is currently happening in the realm of space travel, including the ISS.

There are often exhibitions and activities happening at the Space Center so if you or the kids are into that you should keep your eyes peeled.

Visiting JSC is one of those must-do items in Houston that helps puts life and work into perspective through a showcase of human endeavour and achievement.

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