Help me maximize our experience visiting Space Center Houston
September 22, 2019 1:11 PM   Subscribe

What should I do to maximize a mid-October visit to Space Center Houston? We will be staying at a nearby hotel and using uber. I have tickets for the Level 9 VIP Tour, which includes Space Center Admission for the next day. We are interested in seeing any iconic displays, Saturn V, mission control, space shuttle, Gemini/Apollo capsules, etc, and have no interest in gimmicky ones like Galaxy Lights. The more detailed and adult-oriented space, science, and engineering content the better.

Anything specific for the Level 9 tour to note? How does tram work? Are there better times to queue for certain installations, like, should we go to the Space Shuttle display first? Last? Is the app very helpful?

This will be our first and probably only visit. Any advice or insight would be appreciated!
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra to Travel & Transportation around Houston, TX (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Houstonian here. The only real advice I can give you is GET THERE EARLY. Be there like 30-45 minutes before the Space Center opens. This is the 50th anniversary year for Apollo, and people are FLOCKING there.

I'm not familiar with the fancier tours, but my sense at this point is that opting for any and every "friction-reducing" choice you can is a solid move.
posted by uberchet at 4:00 PM on September 22, 2019

Best answer: I visited SCH 3 times in 2017 while I was at JSC supporting JWST OTIS Cryo Vac Testing. I wasn't able to get a Level 9 Tour when I was there, but I did take the tram tour.

First thing first, bring a USB battery pack and the cable(s) for your phone or extra film for your camera if that is the case.There are many cool pictures there are to take. Bring change so you can buy a soda at the vending machine at the Rocket Park. Houston is so hot and humid my sweat was sweating, but YMMV.

The Level 9 Tour includes a visit to the Rocket Park (and the awesome Saturn V display), the historic Apollo Mission Control Room, the ISS Mission Control Room, and you get to walk on the floor of the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility in Building 9. I cannot stress enough just how MFing cool the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility.

You walk through the cafeteria in order to get to the area where you line up for the tram. echoing uberchet, get there early both for the opening of SCH, and for your tram tour.

I would say that the 747 SCA and Shuttle mockup were not especially crowded, and one of the days I went was the opening day of the Destination Moon exhibit. You ride an elevator up to the shuttle mockup, look around the cargo bay a bit, and then IIRC walk down a level on exterior stairs to the 747 SCA. I thought that was even cooler than the Shuttle mockup. I might go see this first only because it gets hot in there.

I didn't use the app because my plan was just to run around, look at shit, and spend money at the gift shop.One cool display there is the restored Galileo Shuttlecraft from Star Trek. Be sure to see that if you are are Star Trek fan.

Avoid eating in the SCH cafeteria. Take an Uber a spit down the road and go to "Frenchie's" an Italian restaurant that was popular with the Apollo astronauts. Also consider a visit to Space Center Souvenirs in Webster which is better than any NASA Center gift shop I've ever been in.
posted by Rob Rockets at 5:28 PM on September 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much. Exactly the kind of information I was looking for.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 6:25 AM on September 24, 2019

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