Day 7: I did the tourist thing

To finish off the end of an amazing first week at NASA (visiting the active Mission Control, attending the Crew News Briefing, learning about mini NASA projects…), I visited Space Center Houston, the museum that goes along with the Johnson Space Center.

Whenever I walk to JSC (and the Space Center Houston, which is right across from it), I pass under a lot of pine trees.

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Doesn’t that just look like the start to a wonderful day? Now imagine that every day walking to work. No rush hour… No driving… It’s awesome! (Though the sun is a little lower in the sky when I bike to work.)

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Anyway, today’s post has a lot of (not super important) photos because I’m trying out the new camera. Getting a feel for how it shoots. I really like taking photos… Please, don’t mind the not super gorgeous photography as I fiddle with the settings for everything over the next few days. (Warning: I also don’t plan to really edit anything.)

I felt very official as I was taking photos.

When I walk out of the pine cones, I see Rocket Park, which is open to the public. Saturn is housed within the building, and it’s massive. Going inside and standing next to it really puts things in perspective.

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Then I got to see the Longhorns up close! I walk by them every day, but sometimes they’re not close to my path. Couldn’t do much about the fence without getting more of a downward shot, but isn’t he just gorgeous? He’s the most Texas thing at NASA.

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The Longhorns are here as part of an education program with students. It teaches them about breeding and livestock and then the students get to take their Longhorns to shows.

But now Space Center Houston!

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I think I enjoyed the tram tour, the Journey to Space film, and the small exhibit on debris hitting the space station the best.

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On the tour, we got to see Mission Control. (Not the active Mission Control for the International Space Station, but the backup Mission Control) This Mission Control will also eventually be for Orion, the deep space spacecraft going to asteroids/Mars. They’re planning on outfitting Orion (which is teeny-tiny) with an inflatable habitat to give the astronauts lots of room and to cut down on weight and time to assemble the deep space vehicle.

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This Mission Control has a backup Mission Control as well. NASA is big on redundancies. Fun tidbit I learned: The active Mission Control for the space station stills runs on Windows XP. They’ll be upgrading it within the coming months.

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Then I got to see the Vehicle Mock-Up Facility (Building 9!). It’s where the astronauts will train on all the vehicle equipment they will use. In this picture, we’re looking at the International Space Station. They also have equipment to help simulate microgravity.

Then there was this funny step stool. I don’t know if there’s any deeper meaning to it, but I found humor in “Little Giant” on a step stool.

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And a group of students (college-aged?) doing something. It looked fun. They clapped a lot.

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I didn’t get to join them. This time. I’m hoping that when I get to be in the one documentary (I don’t think I’m allowed to say more about it?), I’ll get to go on the floor! We’ll see…

P.S. The manual that comes with my camera is like 900 pages long. I’m not even halfway through, and I’ve already forgotten a good chunk of what I’ve read. I think the key is to read a bit, and then try it out directly afterwards. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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