News Center

Soar with the Future of Flight at Space Center Houston’s New Summer Exhibit


Space Center Houston announces its new summer exhibit Above and Beyond, set to give guests a high-flying experience into the future of aerospace technology April 21-Sept. 9.

“Earn your wings and discover the innovations that bring flight to life,” said the center’s President and CEO William T. Harris. “Become a part of the future of flight and pilot your own mission in an immersive aerospace experience.”


‘Days of Innovation’ Lifts Off at Space Center Houston Spring Break

Days of Innovation are here during Space Center Houston Spring Break, when a lifetime of learning will lift off with robotics, rocketry and engineering March 10-18.

“We offer space and science exploration in a hands-on, immersive and experiential way,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of the nonprofit. “Our spring break will be a launchpad for people of all ages to enjoy, experience and pursue learning, exploration and discovery.”


Lawrence a little-known astronaut pioneer

A year before the Civil Rights Act was signed into law and the same year Thurgood Marshall became the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court, Robert Henry Lawrence made history of his own. In June 1967, Lawrence became the first black astronaut when he was selected by the Air Force as part of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program.

Tragedy smudged Lawrence’s place in history, as the Air Force pilot was killed six months later in a plane crash at Edwards Air Force Base in California. History waited another 16 years before seeing the first black astronaut in space, but Lawrence will always be remembered for paving the way.

Lawrence graduated from Bradley University at age 20 in 1956, where he was a cadet in an Air Force ROTC program. He became a pilot a year later and was an instructor on the T-33 training aircraft by 25. Four years later, Lawrence earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Ohio State.

In all, Lawrence accumulated 2,500 flight hours, including testing the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. At the 50th anniversary memorial ceremony NASA held for Lawrence in 2017, former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden gave Lawrence credit for developing a steep-descent glide technique that made the Space Shuttle Program possible.

“He was involved in development of the maneuver that would become a critical part of space shuttle landing techniques called ‘flare,'” Bolden said.

Fourteen African-American women and men have flown into space since Lawrence was selected for the MOL program. Here’s a quick spotlight on some of their achievements.

Guion Bluford – Selected as an astronaut in August 1979, Bluford is a veteran of four spaceflights, becoming the first African American in space when he flew on STS-8 in 1983.

Ronald McNair – Selected as an astronaut in 1978, McNair tragically lost his life in the Challenger disaster in 1986. It was McNair’s second mission, after flying on STS-41-B in 1984.

Charles Bolden – The 12th Administrator of NASA, Bolden was the first African American to head the agency when he was nominated in 2009. Bolden was selected as an astronaut in 1980, flew on four space missions before leaving the Astronaut Corps to return to the Marine Corps.

Mae Jemison – Jemison became the first African-American woman in space when she flew aboard STS 41 in 1992. The engineer, physician and astronaut holds nine honorary degrees. She also once appeared on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Leland Melvin – Selected as an astronaut in 1998, Melvin flew on two shuttle missions. He was on STS-122 in 2008 and STS-129 in 2009. His official NASA portrait is notable because Melvin appears in it with his two dogs, both rescues, named Jake and Scout.

Operation Restoration is Underway


Space Center Houston’s mission to help restore NASA’s Historic Mission Control began in January with a major phase of the restoration to restore the flight control consoles used by the NASA flight controllers to manage the first missions to the moon.

The first set of flight control consoles was shipped out to be restored at the Cosmosphere International SciEd Center & Space Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas.

NASA historians interviewed flight directors as part of the process to their research to ensure the historical of the consoles and to learn how they reacted to the consoles.

The City of Webster has been key to this project, donating the initial $3.5 million and matching the first $400,000 in private donations from the nonprofit’s successful Kickstarter campaign.

The historic room will be recreated to look like it did in the Apollo era. Led by NASA Johnson Space Center, the effort will restore not only the flight control consoles, but will reactivate wall displays with projections of the Apollo-era. It will focus on all five areas of Mission Control to accurately portray how the area looked the moment the first moon landing occurred on July 20, 1969.

The restoration is set to be completed by the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 in July 2019.

Support is still needed to help finish this project and provide extraordinary learning opportunities for generations to come. You can be a part of the mission to restore Historic Mission Control.


New Chair, Board Members Join Space Center Houston

Nonprofit Announces New Strategic Plan as It Celebrates 25 Years


Space Center Houston announces the 2018 slate for its board of directors and a new strategic plan as it celebrates 25 years.

“We’ve worked hard and experienced tremendous growth,” said William T. Harris, the nonprofit’s president and CEO. “The dedication, expertise and knowledge of these civic and industry leaders will enable Space Center Houston to realize its new strategic plan and be of even greater service to the community.”

Lon Miller of Jacobs replaces Fred Griffin of Griffin Partners Inc. as the chair of the board of directors.

“I am excited as we move forward with our plan,” Miller said. “The strategic framework spells out our vision, by which everything we do will be guided.”


Space Center Houston Conference Draws International Educators


Space Center Houston welcomed more than 550 educators from the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Japan and Hong Kong for hands-on learning experiences with rocket scientists, astronauts and renowned instructors at Space Center Houston’s 24th Space Exploration Educators Conference, Feb. 1-3.

The nonprofit science and space exploration learning center offers teachers and students of all disciplines access to immersive learning experiences, said Daniel Newmyer, Space Center Houston vice president of education.

“We’re not just teaching science to scientists,” said Newmyer. “It’s accessible to all and we have experts to help teachers and students connect the dots.”


Space Center Houston Honors Science Educator for Extraordinary Teaching


Space Center Houston honored a Sun City, Arizona, science teacher for her extraordinary efforts as a teacher with the Cherri Brinley Outstanding Educator Award Feb. 3 during the 24th Space Exploration Educators Conference.

Jennifer Cheesman, a sixth-grade science teacher at Zuni Hills Elementary School, earned the prestigious award for her dedication to overcoming barriers and commitment to putting her students first in her 22-year-career, said Daniel Newmyer, vice president of education for the nonprofit science and space exploration learning center.

“Jennifer makes an extraordinary effort to incorporate space exploration as part of her students’ lives,” Newmyer said. “She has the ability to translate complex science topics into easily understood concepts by using space in her classroom.”


Space Center Houston’s Spring Day Camps Focus on Science to Reach Mars

Space Center Houston offers children a unique science and engineering learning experience that focuses on humanity’s mission to reach Mars during the nonprofit’s spring day camps, March 12-16.

The weeklong programs will challenge students beyond their perceived limits and help them to grasp their potential as real-world problem-solvers, according to Daniel Newmyer, the center’s vice president of education.


Year in Review: Looking Back at the NASA Spinoffs of 2017

Each year, NASA Spinoff profiles roughly 50 scientific and technological innovations that were developed for space travel but now have found their way into our lives. NASA has been documenting these transformative technologies since 1976, with more than 2,000 products and services shared with the world.

These spinoffs lead to improvements in health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, energy and environment, information technology and industrial productivity.

As we enter 2018, it is important to look back on the accomplishments of 2017 and some of the new technologies that are transforming our lives and the world around us.

The ultimate baby blanket
Blankets and wraps for babies incorporate space technology through phase-change materials (PCMs) that regulate temperature. This material originally was investigated for managing heat inside spacesuits.

A water purifier that is purely awesome
This efficient low-cost water purification system can filter water quickly enough to supply an entire village! The NanoCeram filter, originally developed for JSC, eliminates more than 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses. It is portable and can be either battery-operated or hand-cranked.

Improved sight on the slopes
Based off technology developed in the 1990s, Optic Nerve Inc. and NASTEK partnered to develop a new line of ski goggles which can filter roughly 95 percent of blue light, enabling all skiers to enjoy a clearer view on the slopes.

A golf club with game
Spiralock threading, invented in 1979, increased the clamping power of screws and bolts which helped them survive multiple shuttle launches. This technology is now being used by Cobra Puma Golf to secure the “spaceport” in its new driver, allowing it to have the lowest center of gravity ever for a club.

Self-driving tractors
In 2001 John Deere partnered with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to receive data to inform its own GPS receivers for tractor guidance. NASA software eventually enabled self-driving equipment around the globe.

A look back with laser images
Lidar, or laser-based remote sensing equipment, is allowing archaeologists to search for artifacts beneath the Earth’s surface. This technology originally was used by NASA scientists to study space, including the moon, planets and asteroids.

Rockets to race cars
A new 3-D woven quartz composite is being assessed for use on the Orion spacecraft as next-generation heat-shielding. Modified weaving equipment is being used to create denser, larger blocks of 3-D carbon composites for race cars.

Rechargeable hearing
Rechargeable hearing-aid batteries that draw from NASA research are the first to last all day on a single charge. The achievement comes after significant advances were made to the batteries’ durability.

Visit Space Center Houston to learn more about how space technology is influencing our everyday lives!

Space Center Houston Connects Astronaut in Space with Educators on Earth at Annual Conference

Space Center Houston will host a video conference Feb. 1 between an astronaut orbiting Earth on the International Space Station and educators attending the nonprofit’s Space Exploration Educators Conference on Earth.

“The theme of this year’s conference is Our Destination Beyond,” said Phyllis Friello, an education manager and SEEC organizer. “We will take teachers beyond the classroom, beyond borders and beyond boundaries with the power of space exploration during our immersive educational experience.”


Legendary astronaut John Young dies at age 87

Retired astronaut John Young, the ninth person to walk on the moon who enjoyed a career spanning three space programs, died this weekend at the age of 87.

Not many astronauts had careers like Young. Not many people in any field could boast as much professional success. He was the first American to fly in space six times. He was dedicated to NASA and the future of space exploration and had a career that stretched from the Gemini Program through the Space Shuttle Program.

Young took his first steps into space by graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. He then flew in Fighter Squadron 103 during the Korean War.

In September 1962, Young was selected as an astronaut by NASA. His first trip into space was on Gemini 3, the first crewed Gemini mission, which flew in March 1965. His second mission was on Gemini 10 in 1966. Young, as commander, and future Apollo 11 crewmember Michael Collins completed a dual rendezvous.

On his third flight, Young was the command module pilot on Apollo 10, which launched in 1969. His fourth mission was a lunar exploration mission on Apollo 16. The second-to-last Apollo mission launched in 1972 and was a lunar exploration mission, with Young as spacecraft commander. They collected 200 pounds of rocks and drove more than 16 miles in the lunar rover.

Young’s historic career stretched past his trips to the moon. His final two trips into space occurred as part of the burgeoning Space Shuttle Program. That included being commander of STS-1, the first flight of a shuttle orbiter. Young’s final trip into orbit was on STS-9, the first Spacelab mission in November 1983.

Young logged more than 15,275 hours of flying time in props, jets, helicopters and rocket jets, more than 9,200 hours in T-38s and totaled 835 hours in space.

Click here to learn more about John Young.

Space Center Houston Girls Program Gets Boost


Space Center Houston’s Girls STEM education has received a boost from its longtime supporter The Boeing Company with a grant of $42,000.

“We believe that learning is best delivered through hands-on experiences,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of Space Center Houston. “Boeing’s gift and the experiences it affords is an investment to inspire the next generation of thinkers and leaders to one day enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.”


Enrollment now open for new 11-14-year-old Space Center U program

Space Center Houston’s ultimate educational experience Space Center U expands to include a new program for students ages 11-14 beginning this fall. This five-day challenge promotes teamwork, solving problems, communication skills and engineering solutions to space-related situations.

In the new program, 11- to 14-year-old participants will experience interactive and engaging activities and challenges that explore moon missions including rocket launches, lunar habitat design and sustainability, robotic rovers and more.

Space Center U students also get a behind-the-scenes look at space exploration. They will hear from expert guest speakers, including a NASA astronaut, and learn what it takes to prepare humans for space exploration. They also will tour Space Center Houston exhibits and NASA Johnson Space Center facilities, including the Neutral Buoyancy Lab where astronauts train.

Enroll your students in Space Center U today and inspire your students to pursue STEM through the wonders of space exploration.