John and I took one last adventure while staying in Houston, down to the NASA Space Center. Since we were there during the week of the Super Bowl, which was being held in Houston, we were able to go see not only the Space Center but the Neutral Buoyancy Lab too! Once in the museum we wondered around looking at the exhibits and learned more recent information about the space program. They have trams operating all day, so you can take your time experiencing the exhibits in the main hall. Once on the tram they take you through a tunnel with an audio tour guide. The short ride to the other Space Center exhibits shows you where the scientists study anything they can to make missions and life in space easier or even achievable for humans. First stop we visited the Mission Simulator lab. In a large building they recreate the International Space Station. Scientist and astronauts come up with tools, software programs, and practice different missions on land within the premises.
Next we went to Rocket Park, where they have some of the previously used rockets space ships. You can see the evolution of them from smaller to larger over the years and trips to the moon. The Saturn 5 Rocket is disassembled into sections inside the warehouse. When you walk through you can see the dissections of the rocket and the size of these vessels.
We took a bus over to the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. Usually it is an extra ticket to get in, and it costs about $80.00. We happened to be here during the Super Bowl week and they were hosting “Space Bowl” at Johnson Space Center. We were able to get free tickets to go over to see the laboratory. The lab is an extremely large swimming pool. It’s purpose is to create, as close as possible, a weightless environment. NASA has working models of the entire international space station in the pool. Astronauts learn to work with tools, perform mock space walks, and train for actual missions they may perform in space. All of the machinery is the same but they have to modify it to work underwater in this lab. Scuba divers monitor for safety and mission readiness to help the astronauts work on things when they get back to the top.
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