Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Anniversary Weekend, day 3

Our final day in Houston arrived, and I think it was the day that Nick was most excited about. We were headed to the Space Center, and if that wasn't nerdy enough, we were going to be there on Pi day! 3/14! Talk about nerd overload.

When you arrive the first thing you see is the new Independence Plaza, which is just really cool. You get to walk inside a replica shuttle, Independence, and also the Boeing that it is mounted to. This is the only shuttle mounted to a shuttle carrier aircraft that the public can walk through in the world, which is pretty darn cool. We had timed tickets to see this in the afternoon, so this happened later in the day.
This is inside the shuttle replica. It's really spacious and the ceiling is a big mirror, which is a fun selfie spot, right? You begin the tour at the top of the shuttle in the cockpit area, and then go down a few flights of stairs to see different levels (so upper and lower level of the shuttle, and then at the bottom you walk through the plane). 
 Before we toured the shuttle, we hopped on the tram tour over to original mission control. Like, literally THE mission control. Obviously they don't use this one anymore, and they've restored it back to the way it was back in the 60s/70s for the tourists, but it's still so cool. You get to sit in the chairs where people would come to visit during shuttle missions - like the Queen, for example, or Presidents and other important people as well as astronaut families.
  The second part of the tram tour takes you over to Rocket Park, where you get to see a couple of smaller rockets outside and then you step into this huge building which houses a never used Saturn 5 rocket, the launch vehicle that would take you to the moon. I can't even describe the size of this thing. Massive doesn't do it justice. (Have you seen this rocket? It's GINORMOUS!) We happened to be just in time to hear a former NASA employee give a guided tour of the rocket, so we listened as he took us from the back end to the front and explained each section and what job it had during space flight. It's crazy to think that there are 12 or 13 (can't remember which he said) of these huge bottom sections laying in the bottom of the ocean.
 We walked around other exhibits at the main museum area and had lunch while we were there. A particularly cool highlight of the day was getting to hear a 30 minute presentation from an actual astronaut who was visiting the space center that day, Brian Duffy. He has spent more than 40 days in space. So he spent the half hour walking us through a mission they completed when helping to build the International Space Station, in photos and some video. It was really awesome to get the opportunity to listen to him speak - I really wish they had given him more time!

We left the Space Center late that afternoon and started making our way home. We stopped along the way and had some delicious BBQ in Center, Texas at Woody's Smokehouse. We arrived home finally after a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a couple of things for our Whole30 that we were starting the very next day. In all, it was a fabulous anniversary weekend! 

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