The official visitor center of NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is one of Houston’s top attractions. With so much to see and do, the sprawling center can be difficult for first-timers to navigate. One highlight is exploring the mission control center, where the well-known words “Houston, we’ve had a problem here” were received prior to the dramatic Apollo 13 rescue mission. To get the most from your visit to this manned spaceflight mecca, read about Space Center Houston’s other impressive sites. It’s all about a half hour south of the apartments at AMLI Memorial Heights.
Earlier this year, Space Center Houston opened Independence Plaza. The focal point here is Independence, a full-scale Space Shuttle replica mounted on a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). It’s large, it’s extraordinary, and you can go inside to explore the replica, mounted atop an real NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft, which you can also explore the insides of.
The lunar module on display at Space Center Houston served only as a test unit for astronaut training. But it has a similar design as the spacecraft from which astronauts on all six successful Apollo missions descended to the moon.
Have you read or seen The Martian? Space Center Houston’s Mars Yard is where Space Exploration Vehicles (SEVs) are tested. The landscape may not look particularly Martian, but it is designed to imitate Mars’ topography. Besides, the SEVs are definitely worth seeing. If you’re a Mars fanatic, you should also check out the Martian meteorite housed under “The Next Giant Leap” mural. When the case holding the meteorite is unlocked, visitors are permitted to touch it.
Designed to resemble humans, NASA’s robonauts handle tasks as varied as serving the International Space Station and exploring other planets. Check them out at the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility in Building 9 to see how they’ve evolved over time.
Saturn V was the type of rocket that launched the Apollo missions to the moon. You can see the most intact of the three surviving Saturn Vs at Rocket Park, along with a Mercury Redstone and an Apollo capsule. Rocket Park is a must-see for every visitor to Space Center Houston.
Appreciate the history of space exploration by admiring the space capsules on display at Space Center Houston. Real astronauts occupied these capsules on space missions. Viewing them gives you a little taste of what life is like for astronauts in space.
Neutral Buoyancy Lab
NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) is located five miles north of Space Center Houston’s main campus, but it’s worth the drive. If you live in Houston proper, it should be on your way home anyway. Visit for the opportunity to see where astronauts train for space missions and learn how a zero-gravity atmosphere is imitated on earth.
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