I can finally mark visiting the Houston Space Center off my list of places to see. Houston is about a five-hour drive for us so we started out around 6:00 am. Our first stop was at Buc-ee’s for gas. While we were there we had to look around and Scott found a little stuffed Buc-ee for our granddaughter, Samantha. We decided it would be fun to take Buc-ee with us into the Space Center and let him pop up from time to time to say high to her. Tomorrow I’ll get Buc-ee in the mail to her and she can sit and watch the video with it. All of the spots you see Buc-ee pop up are places that the general public can touch. We didn’t put him anywhere off-limits or where there were signs not to touch.
Parking at Space Center Houston is $5. Cash and credit cards are accepted at the toll plaza. There was plenty of parking and lots of spots with shade.
Opening Hours and Contact Information for Space Center Houston
Space Center Houston is open year round except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Standard opening times are from 10 am – 5 pm. Hours and days are subject to change so always check the official website here to be sure.
You will need to purchase tickets and can do so online ahead of time or buy at the window like we did. We felt like it was reasonably priced for everything we got to see and do. There is a lot to keep children of all ages engaged and plenty of things to see, do and read as an adult without kids.
Standard entry to Space Center Houston for an adult (12+) is $29.95, and $24.95 for children (aged 4-11). Prices are correct as of August 2019.
This is the outdoor area where you can climb aboard the shuttle replica Independence, mounted on top of the historic and original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft. There are stairs to climb to different levels but an elevator is also available.
NASA Tram Tour
The tram portion was one of my favorite parts of the visit. One thing you’ll want to pay attention to is which line you are getting in. There are small signs but they are easy to miss. The lines indicate which tour you will be going on, the training facility or Mission Control. You can visit both but you’ll need to be in line before 3:00 pm for the final tour. The trams were constantly arriving to drop off and pick up guest so the line moves pretty quickly.
ASTRONAUT TRAINING FACILITY TOUR
Walk an elevated path through the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility in Building 9 where NASA astronauts train for current missions and where scientists and engineers are developing the next generation of space exploration vehicles.
MISSION CONTROL CENTER TOUR
Visit the iconic Christopher C. Kraft Mission Control and discover the Apollo Mission Control Center from which NASA led Gemini and Apollo missions, including the momentous first lunar landing mission as well as early space shuttle missions.
Rocket park was a highlight for sure. When the tram pulls up you see some rockets outside and a very large metal building. The tram tour guide explains that the Saturn V rocket is inside but I still wasn’t expecting it to be so massive. I don’t usually like getting strangers in photos but they do help give an indication of size.
From the Space Center visitors information: ‘There are only three Saturn V rockets on display in the world.
The Saturn V rocket stands 363 feet tall and has dazzled viewers since its first un-crewed takeoff, the Apollo 4 mission in 1967. When fueled and ready for launch, the rocket can weigh 6.2 million pounds (2.8 kg). That is almost the same weight as 39 space shuttle orbiters.
Flown from 1967 to 1973, the rocket launched 27 astronauts into space with six successful missions landing men on the Moon. Saturn V also launched Skylab, America’s first space station, into orbit in its final mission. Astronauts could immediately feel the impressive power of Saturn V propelling them through Earth’s atmosphere into orbit.’
We decided to eat lunch before heading to the Space Center because we were pretty hungry after being on the road for 5.5 hours. We did, however, go in the dining area called Zero-G diner. The prices were very reasonable and the choices in food included something for just about everyone: Sandwiches, vegetarian, grilled food, burgers, pizza and snacks.
If you’re looking for something extra special you can pre-purchase lunch with an astronaut. This casual event gives you the opportunity to hear first-hand stories from a NASA astronaut while enjoying a delicious lunch prepared by our in-house catering staff.
Where To Stay
Less than 30 minutes from the sun and surf of Galveston’s pristine beaches, the Clear Lake Area is the perfect place to spend the day or book a hotel room and have a getaway vacation.
Great shopping and restaurants abound, and since we’re halfway between Houston and Galveston, everything is within easy driving distance. One of our great sponsors, the City of Webster, right in the heart of the Clear Lake Area offers a number of great hotels. Be sure and ask for the special “Space Center Houston Discount.”
We hope you’ve enjoyed our trip and found our guide to the Space Center in Houston helpful! As always, we’re happy to hear your feedback and answer your questions. Just use the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.