It was time to take a break from unpacking and have a look at what Houston has to offer. I'd also managed to slice the top off my finger while trying to remove some staples with a kitchen knife. "I ain't got time to bleed," I declared, and then decided to take a break to recover from my severe man-injury.
But what to do? "Hmm...what was the first word spoken from the Moon?" I thought. And then I remembered! It was "Houston"! (Although probably not). My mind was made up: let's go to NASA.
NASA is big around here, with the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center being the 1,600 acre hub of all the US manned space flight that has gone on for half a century. The land was kindly donated by an oil company (of course) and today you can visit it and take a tram ride around, waving at real scientists and engineers, who presumably love tourists rolling by their windows while they're trying to do...whatever it is scientists do.
There's a fantastic visitors' centre, with all the interactive treats that Pete could imagine, and out the front sits a space shuttle on the back of a jumbo jet! The tram tour takes you across the massive campus to the very room where they commanded all the space missions and heard the word "Houston", from the Moon and famously followed by "we have a problem". The modern command room for the International Space Station is downstairs so this one has been restored to its former 1960s glory, and visitors sit in the actual seats the dignitaries sat in all those years ago (although thankfully with less cigarette smoke).
Unfortunately, as with our visit to the Kennedy Space Center, there are several mentions of the lack of an active manned space program; all the shuttles are now only tourist attractions. Surely breaching the final frontier is the noblest, most evolutionary, most imaginatively successful thing we could do, soaring from our planet and guaranteeing the continuation of our species! But no, it seems this country (and most others) would rather increase spending on ways to kill people. Oh well, so much for my 50th anniversary trip to Mars.
Thankfully Pete and the myriad other children there were utterly entranced by all the ideas, and though like every parent I sometimes wish I could shoot him into space, this time I meant it in a loving, human progress kind of way. I guess I'll settle for a postcard from Mars when I'm in my nursing home.
Anyone want to help me steal a space shuttle and see if we can get it flying again?
A faked Moon landing.
Touching some Moon rock.
Ready to fly.
My main wish to be an astronaut stems from all the buttons I could press! Woo!
Sadly, Daddy failed.
A little short to be a space man.
One step from greatness.
Welcome to the futuristic 60s.
You need a big rocket to get into orbit. If scientists could hurry up inventing teleporters, things would be more efficient.
The pizza slices in the cafe were of galactic proportions too.