News Release

A Most Wonderful Time of the Year at Space Center Houston

HOUSTON, Dec. 16, 2015 – Feel like a kid again this holiday season by marveling at the wonders of space exploration and new exhibits at Space Center Houston. Travel through the cosmos on a mission to Mars, train like an astronaut, see a future spacecraft, look inside a rover and meet a NASA astronaut.

Be the Astronaut 1 Be the Astronaut 2 NASA Tram Tour Space Center Houston

Photo cutlines

“Feel the excitement of deep-space exploration this holiday season,” said President and CEO Richard E. Allen Jr. “Drive a rover on the surface of Mars, stand close to the Orion capsule and feel the future of space exploration at your fingertips. Plus, we have new special exhibits and activities only for the holidays.”

There’s something for all ages and extended holiday hours to enjoy them. Bring the whole family to have fun in the highly interactive new fall exhibit “Be the Astronaut,” presented by the city of Webster.  See a future spacesuit prototype, learn about astronaut tools used for spacewalks, touch a moon rock or board the NASA Tram Tour and see where astronauts train.

Explore the galaxy and beyond with special exhibits just in time for the holidays.

  • Orion back-shell tile panel, through Jan. 3 – The Orion back-shell tile panel, on loan from Lockheed Martin, is now on display. See a piece of the back-shell tile panel that protected the Orion capsule during its first high orbital flight test. Composed of heat-shielding tiles, it protected the spacecraft from temperatures reaching 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. See how NASA will transport astronauts to the moon, an asteroid and eventually Mars in its deep-space exploration program.
  • Orion capsule and actual working parachute – Orion is NASA’s new exploration spacecraft, designed to carry astronauts to destinations in deep space. This Orion capsule, on loan from Lockheed Martin, is a full-scale engineering model that was used to train astronauts to enter and exit the spacecraft. Along with the capsule, see the actual Orion parachute cascading from the ceiling that was used in the drop test with the Orion boilerplate spacecraft launched last December. See a piece of history up close at Space Center Houston.
  • Space Exploration Vehicle, Dec. 18-Jan. 4 – The Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV), part of a new generation of roving space vehicles, will allow astronauts to explore multiple sites on Mars, serve as a storm shelter and assist the astronauts with their spacesuits. The SEV will help robots and astronauts build a long-term space presence and conduct a wealth of science experiments in future deep-space missions.
  • “AstroSpies: The Exhibition,” through Jan. 10 – Discover the untold story of the space race of the 1960s. While the U.S. raced the Soviet Union to the moon during the peak of the Cold War, both countries ran a parallel space spy program. AstroSpies is an art collection of rarely seen paintings that depict development and training of this covert military space program of the early space age.
  • “Be the Astronaut,” now until Jan. 3 – Visitors will navigate a deep space mission in the world premiere of “Be the Astronaut,” sponsored by the city of Webster. Plan a mission to Mars, pilot a rover along the red planet’s surface and have fun with hands-on technologies.
  • Meet an Astronaut every Friday plus special holiday appearances 28-31 – Make the most of the holiday season with a one-of-a-kind experience. Meet an astronaut and hear interesting stories about their time in space. Learn about living in space and see what it takes to become one of NASA’s elite astronauts. The 30-minute presentations are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Lunch with an Astronaut every Friday plus special holiday appearances 28-31 – This special experience gives visitors an up-close meeting with an astronaut over a cosmic lunch. Enjoy this ultimate experience and make family memories that will last a lifetime. Begins at noon.
  • NASA Tram Tour – See historic rockets and the enormous Saturn V rocket at NASA’s Rocket Park, see Mission Control for the International Space Station or go to the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility and see where astronauts train.

Space Center Houston has implemented a new timed-ticketing program to help visitors have the best experience possible on the NASA Tram Tour. There are three easy ways to reserve a ticket for the tram tour. Prior to a visit, reserve a free ticket for a designated time at spacecenter.org/nowait. Arriving without a timed ticket? Don’t worry. There are still two ways to reserve a tram ticket. Go first to the timed-ticket stations at the Membership Desk where a Crew Member can assist in reserving a spot, or use your mobile device at spacecenter.org/nowait to reserve a tour.

For tips on planning your trip, go to the spacecenter.org/visitor. Enjoy extended holiday hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Purchase a Space Center Houston membership for a few dollars more than full-price admission and return free as often as you like during the year with free parking, special events and much more. For more information on Space Center Houston, visit www.spacecenter.org.

# # #

The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit space museum with an extensive science education program. The cornerstone of its science education mission is Space Center Houston, which USA Today called “The Big Draw” in the greater Houston area with nearly 1 million visitors annually and a $45 million economic impact on the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is Houston’s first and only Smithsonian Affiliate and the official visitor center of NASA Johnson Space Center.  The center draws more than 100,000 teachers and students annually from around the world. For more information, go to www.spacecenter.org.

SOURCE: Manned Space Flight Education Foundation

Download news release (pdf)