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Old 16 Oct 15, 08:21 PM  
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CrispyA
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Join Date: Oct 11
Howdy Texas! Day 21 Johnson Space Center & Galveston

After breakfast, we checked out, somewhat sad to say goodbye to our lovely hotel. I was feeling better, which was good, but we were all a little sad that the end of the holiday was drawing near.

We got on the road going south, heading for Clear Lake and the Johnson Space Center. Having missed out on Kennedy when we were in Florida, I was really keen to see this one and we were all excited about visiting NASA!

When we got there, the first thing we noticed was the smell - the centre smelled like Disney! I'm not sure how you really describe the smell but we all agreed on the Disney connection - maybe this is how Space Mountain smells?

We headed for the tram tour first of all and after queueing for about 5 minutes, we were near the front but not near enough for that tram. The wait time for the next one was about 40 minutes, so Paul's inclination was to go and come back, rather than wait. However, there was a growing queue behind us, so me and Hannah thought it prudent to stay where we were and definitely be on the next one, rather than come back and join an even longer queue. There was an amount of huffing and puffing, but we told the boys to go and look around the exhibits and we would stay in the queue.

The time actually went pretty quickly as they start the boarding process 10 minutes before the tram leaves, so Hannah and I had quick look around after the boys came back and then it was time to get going.

The tram tour was really good - we went around the facility, stopping off at various points. The first stop included the original Mission Control and we got to sit in the viewing gallery.



They have a fancier version now, but this is where it all started. They were going to film Apollo 13 here but couldn't fit all the cameras in, so they recreated it exactly instead. The flag in the top right corner was the back-up flag that flew on several missions and finally made it to the moon especially to be hung in Mission Control.

The tour also takes you to Building 9 where the astronauts train - using simulators and robotics. It was fascinating to see all the space craft and training robots.





Soyuz takes crews to and from the International Space Station.



Orion is the new spacecraft being developed.



It was all really cool and we felt very privileged to see it all. The tour was also very moving - you pass the memorial grove of trees planted in memory of those who have died in accidents, including Challenger and Columbia. I admired how while JSC is a celebration of space exploration, they never shy away from the problems or deaths that have happened along the way.

The final stop is Saturn V - the enormous rocket that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon.



We could see the skies darkening as we headed back to the tram and they were urging us along as there was a storm coming. The rain started as we got back into the Center and it was just as well that we didn't listen to Paul, as they stopped the tram tours after ours had finished due to the weather.

We went to the movie theatres that showed the history of space exploration, checking back in with JFK who was such a pioneer of space travel. We got to watch an Imax film about space exploration narrated by Patrick Stewart, and in another gallery, we could touch a piece of the moon. We also had a look around a mock up of the space shuttle. One of the really interesting things we learned was about the co-operation between the USA and Russia during the early days of the space programme - even while they were at loggerheads politically, their astronauts and scientists were working together.

While we were in there, we heard a huge bang which turned out to be lightening striking something outside - scary stuff! The storm was very loud so we were glad to be inside.

It had died down as we left and it was just torrential rain. We got on the road, calling at Buc-ees on the way and trying some of their hot food - very tasty!



We ate beaver tots and tacos, which were lovely, used the spotless restrooms and also picked up some Texas Country CDs. Best of all was Paul's t-shirt find - we love Aaron Watson, a Texas Country singer, and he picked up an Aaron Watson t-shirt which is now one of his favourites.

It was starting to dry up a little as we drove across to Galveston and arrived at our hotel. It wasn't sunny but at least the rain had stopped. Rain as we arrive at the beach was starting to become a bit of a "thing" for us on this trip!

We were staying at the Quality Inn, which had a nice balcony, and although the room was pretty small compared with our hotel in Houston, it was nice enough. We had a quick dip in the indoor pool as it didn't feel like beach weather yet, before walking along the sea front for a bit.

We had looked at some restaurants but they were all a bit far away, so in the end, we went to Tortuga's, which was right by the hotel. We had a lovely Mexican meal and got to watch championship arm-wrestling on TV in the restaurant as we ate - what more could you want?

Back at the hotel, we watched the Astros get a huge win over the Yankees before dozing off in front of the Discovery Channel.

Edited at 09:26 PM.
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Old 18 Oct 15, 08:25 AM  
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katiebaz
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The Space Centre looked really good- we really enjoyed Kennedy and this looks really interesting too. Did you really want to say "Houston we have a problem"😀😀
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Old 18 Oct 15, 12:36 PM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by katiebaz View Post
The Space Centre looked really good- we really enjoyed Kennedy and this looks really interesting too. Did you really want to say "Houston we have a problem"😀😀
Once or twice . . .

I found it quite moving at times - funny how a big rocket can make you all teary!
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Old 18 Oct 15, 02:11 PM  
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Melbatb
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Sounds like another good day! We are looking forward to KSC in Florida at Christmas (pnly thing on DH's wishlist! ). I keep seeing Bucees turn up in trip reports
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Old 18 Oct 15, 02:55 PM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
Sounds like another good day! We are looking forward to KSC in Florida at Christmas (pnly thing on DH's wishlist! ). I keep seeing Bucees turn up in trip reports
Have a great time at KSC! I really wanted to go when we were in Florida but we just didn't have time to fit it in.
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Old 6 May 17, 11:30 AM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by WileyCoyote View Post
The Space Centre looks fab - great tour there and well done beating the rain
Err, beaver tots, what are those ? !
Their own brand of tater tots - containing no actual Beavers!
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