After spending the most magical week in Disney World, we went to Houston for three days to visit my cousin and her husband. And because our agenda in Houston wasn’t to do the typical touristy things, I thought it’d be a good idea to share pictures of all the things we did and saw while in Houston.
Johnson Space Center (NASA)
The highlight of our trip to Houston was visiting NASA. NASA’s mission is to provide a fun and engaging educational experience on the subject of space exploration. We did the Level 9 VIP Tour and it’s safe to say that NASA lived up to its claim; we learnt A LOT all while having fun at the same time. The level 9 tour is limited to 12 participants per group and is the only way for the general public to get an intimate view of the space program and its development from the first moonshot through today.
Our first stop was to see the gigantic Saturn V (Saturn five), which was built to send people to the moon. Our tour guide took some time to explain how the Saturn V is launched and how it was used in the Apollo program in the 60s and 70s.
Our next stop was the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL), where astronauts are trained to deal with weightlessness in Earth’s closest approximation – a swimming pool.
The pool in NBL is about 40 feet deep and contains full size mock-ups of the International Space Station, and astronauts spend about six to eight hours at a stretch underwater, training to go to space. I always knew it wasn’t easy being an astronaut but seeing the kind of effort that goes into training was incredible.
Fun fact: A few scenes from the movie Armageddon were shot at the NBL.
Next we visited the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility. Like the NBL, this is used to train astronauts to get familiar with the systems and has full size mock-ups of the vehicles and components of the space station.
We also got to see the Orion, a spacecraft which will carry astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before. The Orion will play an important part in NASA’s journey to Mars and we were all quite excited to see it.
At this point, we took a lunch break to eat at the employee cafeteria. Our lunch was included in the VIP Tour package (you’re allowed to eat as much as you want!) and only those who take the VIP Tour have access to the employee cafeteria, where all the astronauts eat as well.
You can clearly tell we were quite famished!
Not only was the food amazing, but we also got to meet Sunita Williams, which was just the cherry on the cake. She was so warm and friendly and took a picture with us too!
After lunch, we got to see a live mission control room. A mission control center is a facility that manages space flights, usually from the point of launch until landing or the end of the mission, and it was quite cool to have gotten a chance to see it live in action.
Last, but not the least, we got to visit the exact same mission control center that was used when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon! It was amazing being in that room and seeing everything up close and personal.
After the tour was over, we checked out the museum at NASA, watched a couple of short films about space, also did some souvenir shopping. All in all, it was such a fun and educational day and we were so glad we opted for the Level 9 Tour.
Museum of Natural Science
We also spent a few hours at the Museum of Natural Science in the Museum District in Houston. Honestly, you need more than just one day to see the museum properly but because we didn’t have that much time, we could only see a few sections of the museum.
We watched a show called ‘Dark Universe’ at the Burke Baker Planetarium and checked out the Hall of Ancient Egypt (where we saw real mummies), Morian Hall of Paleontology (I really enjoyed this section and that kinda made me feel like Ross from Friends), and Weiss Energy Hall.
We were quite excited about trying Tex-Mex food and went to this restaurant called El Tiempo Cantina and ordered some chalupas, tacos, nachos, tres leches and margaritas (yum!).
We also had some delectable cupcakes and macarons at SWEET, a cute-looking bakery.
Last Day in Houston
We started our day with an early morning walk at the park near my cousin’s house. It literally looks like a Windows wallpaper, doesn’t it?
With just three hours left to our flight, we managed to get some shopping done. #Priorities
We had such a great time at Houston, only made better with the hospitality of our amazing hosts.