Love space? Let NASA open the universe for your exploration.
In December 2017 we had the opportunity to visit the Houston Space Centre in Houston, Texas. One of the two NASA Space Centers, this is both a learning center and where NASA controls their space launches once they have lifted off at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The Space Center was open 10-6 most days over the Christmas Holidays and was very busy during our visit. Tickets can be bought online or at the door for $29.95USD for an adult. The Space Center is included in the Houston City Pass for those that choose to visit multiple attractions in the Houston area.
We arrived when the center opened, bought our tickets at the door and were one of the first on the tram tour. The center offers 2 different tram tours. The first tour is about 90 minutes and takes visitors out to Rocket Park (where the Saturn V Rocket is currently on display), the Space Vehicle Mock-up and historical Mission Control. The second tour is only 30 minutes and takes visitors through the history of the Johnson Space Center and the NASA grounds with an optional stop at Rocket Park. We took the 90-minute tour and by the time we got back to the center there was over an hour wait for the second tour so we did not end up taking both.
When you enter the Space Center, the main room has several exhibits regarding space exploration, Mars, the rockets, the space shuttles and information regarding the history and future of space travel. This area is wonderful to walk through and take in the information and can be enjoyed at your leisure.
There is a large theatre upstairs. Two different videos can be viewed throughout the day about space and NASA. This is a great way to discover how far science and space exploration has come and how far we still have to go. The theatre has a large seating area, however, by mid-day the shows did fill up so we only had the opportunity to see one show. The theatre has areas set up at the top of the theatre for wheelchairs and scooters. There are also elevators for guests needing assistance to get into the theatre.
In the main gallery there are several science shows, geared for adults and many for kids to teach them about science. Several of the shows consist of science experiments, teaching basic science and how NASA uses that science in space or for space travel. These shows are fun and engaging but seating is very limited.
There are some additional rooms with interactive exhibits. The astronaut gallery is located in the atrium, where pictures of all the shuttle crews can be found. The galleries for sets on Mars and the space station can be seen through pictures and recreations throughout the Space Center.
The highlight of the Space Center is Independence Plaza. Independence Plaza is home to a replica of the Space Shuttle Independence mounted on an original NASA 905 shuttle carrier. Here visitors can enter the space shuttle and walk through both the replica shuttle and the shuttle carrier. This is a unique opportunity that you can not get at NASA in Florida.
The Space Center has wheelchairs available for rent on a first-come first-serve basis. As rentals are limited, guests are encouraged to bring their own wheelchairs and scooters for their visit. All the theatres, shows and activities are wheelchair accessible including the tram tours. If you need assistance with your scooter for the tram please just request the assistance, there is a lift into the tram.
Guide maps are available in 8 different languages.
For our guests with Autism, sensory backpacks can be rented from the Guest Service Desk. Included in these backpacks are sound reducing headphones, sunglasses, fidgets, books and guides. Guests are also encouraged to bring their own sensory soothing tools. Johnson Space Center does offer sensory friendly evenings on specific nights throughout the year. These evenings are scheduled events where there is reduced light, sound and crowd stimuli. Tickets for these evenings can be purchased for $15.95USD for the evening.
With 2 weeks notice, the Space Center can schedule American Sign Language interpreters for guests with hearing impairments. Most visual displays have closed captioning in place.
For those with visual impairments, braille books are available through Guest Services. Audio guides are available, though they are not designed specifically for this purpose and are not descriptive guides; they can be provided as an aid to tell the story of human flight and space.
Service animals are permitted in every part of the Space Center except the simulators. However, under ADA and Texas Law emotional support, therapy and comfort animals are NOT considered service animals.
The Houston Space Center does its part to educate visitors about the history and future of space travel with special events and activities throughout the year. Come and learn about the science and the possibilities of the future.