Over the last 25 years, Space Center Houston has inspired millions through the wonders of space exploration and contributed a great deal to the community and the world through education programs and museum exhibits.
We appreciate your support over these 25 years. We could not have done it without you. Our core mission is to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration. Every one of you who walks through our doors and imagines what it was like to land on the moon or what it will be like to colonize Mars fulfills that mission.
Through the years, the center has seen some great accomplishments. We’ve opened major new exhibits like Independence Plaza. We’ve shared rare and inspiring space artifacts that document landmark achievements in human space travel and educated scores of future explorers. We continue to grow and add things to see and do every day.
Launch through time with us as we reminisce.
Space Center Houston timeline
LEGO exhibit featuring LEGO astronaut
Formerly known as Blast-Off! Theater
The campaign is launched to restore Historic Mission Control!
We are thrilled with the enthusiastic response from backers since we launched the campaign on Thursday, July 20, 2017. As we write this update, we are 73% toward our funding goal of $250,000! What an amazing outpouring of respect and affection for Historic Mission Control and the people who worked there. We look forward to honoring their work in a fully restored Historic Mission Control.
“It isn’t equipment that wins the battles; it is the quality and the determination of the people fighting for a cause in which they believe.” — Gene Kranz
Let’s pause for a moment to celebrate before we continue in our efforts to preserve this international icon of space history.
Apollo Flight Director Glynn Lunney stopped by Space Center Houston yesterday to check on the progress of our campaign and to add his autograph to the book Go Flight! The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965-1992. The Lunney Family also made a generous donation to join the Webster Challenge.
You may recognize him in these historic photos:
Or this one, taken during the Apollo 13 mission. Also pictured is Apollo Flight Director Milt Windler:
Enjoy this infographic about the amazing height of the Saturn V rocket. No matter how many milestones we achieve, we keep setting our sights on a higher one.
We are beyond the moon with gratitude to each and every one of you!
Thanks to you, we have achieved something extraordinary. We more than doubled our initial goal of $250,000 and rocketed past the Webster Challenge matching funds to more than $500,000!
The restoration of Historic Mission Control will enable us to restore and preserve a very special place. The legacy of the Apollo program and Historic Mission Control will inspire future generations to tackle challenges we can’t even envision today.
The words of Gene Kranz, spoken in the film “Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo,” seem fitting at this moment:
“Somehow….when we came together we were greater than the sum of our parts…We were better than we ever expected to be; we were more successful than we expected to be.”
This morning, technicians from Cosmosphere arrived at Johnson Space Center to take the first major step in the restoration process. Up to this point, most of the work done on the project has involved in-depth research, interviews with former Apollo flight controllers and documentation of MOCR contents with a digital scan.
Today, the first set of consoles slated for removal were opened so that all the internal components could be inventoried before the consoles are packed and shipped.
The P-tube stations will be cut this week. They will be lifted by riggers and put on a pallet, then packed and shipped to the Cosmosphere (where the consoles are being restored) next week. Last month, when the first two rows of consoles were removed from Historic Mission Control, the Pneumatic Tube (P-tube) consoles were not removed as they were still connected to the piping system. A dismantling plan was submitted to the Texas State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), which recently provided its concurrence.
From the Historic Furnishings Report and Visitor Experience Plan for the Apollo Mission Control Center National Historic Landmark, developed by the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior in June of 2015:
What were the P-tube stations used for? There were nine P-tube stations for sending and receiving hardcopy prints of display screens and other critical mission documents in the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR).
The P-tube system was a nineteenth century technology that used a vacuum propelled air pressure system to deliver cylindrical, 12-inch by 3-inch aluminum canisters through a central exchanger to the pneumatic tube stations at the consoles. Wall-mounted stations in the building were found in the Real Time Computer Complex and Staff Support Rooms. Average transmission time between stations was 45 seconds, although it took two minutes to send a canister from the 3rd floor MOCR down to the Flight Crew staff support room on the first floor.
Flight Controllers used the P-tube system heavily through active missions. The hardcopies that arrived via a P-tube canister were generated by the video hardcopy system. Each console user had the option to request a printout of his 945-line video display on the CRT. Pressing the hardcopy request button activated a camera that took a 35mm photograph of the video channel, automatically processed the image, and dried it within 20 seconds. The hardcopy equipment operator then sent the print into the P-tube canister for delivery to the console.
According to several retired flight controllers, “The sound of the pneumatic P-tubes coming and going” was a distinctive characteristic of the MOCR during the Apollo Program.
Where are the consoles now? Here’s a look behind the scenes at the progress of the console restoration happening at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The historic consoles used by NASA flight controllers to manage the first missions to land astronauts on the moon are being restored back to their Apollo 15 configuration – the apex of console technology during the Apollo era. NASA upgraded the consoles during the shuttle era (1981 To 1992), which makes returning them to their Apollo configuration an important step in the restoration process.
To jumpstart the beginning of the restoration, Cosmosphere’s SpaceWorks division specialists went into each of the consoles and removed all surface rust. Specialists then added a protective coating to each console, which will ensure each surface remains in pristine condition for the next half century.
Specialists then worked diligently to tag each console, carefully indicating correct and incorrect layouts. Next, specialists inspected each set of consoles to specify which buttons are “missing” from each console.
Specialists then attached a diagram to each console, which will allow the team to envision the final product.
Once specialists identified all of the console’s missing pieces, Cosmosphere Spaceworks began manufacturing the pieces necessary to finalize the consoles back to their Apollo era formatting. Manufactured pieces will include items such as monitor cover panels, shown below, that were upgraded over the years during which the room was operational.
Specialists note that for 50-year-old consoles, NASA did a remarkable job ensuring they remained in close to pristine condition.
Cosmosphere Spaceworks estimates that the work to restore the first set of consoles back to their Apollo configuration is more than halfway complete, which keeps the project on target to return consoles back to Houston within the projected November 2018 time frame!
The first two rows of restored consoles arrived at Ellington Airport today, where a crowd of NASA officials, Cosmosphere personnel, Apollo Alumni and Space Center Houston officials celebrated their safe return.
- Over 18 million visitors have explored space with us at Space Center Houston.
- The Kennedy podium was the first official artifact in Space Center Houston’s collection.
- Students from more than 25 countries have explored science, technology, engineering and math in our education programs.
- Our NASA Tram Tours have traveled more than 780,980 miles, which is an equivalent distance to three trips to the moon.
- Our SpaceTrader gift shop sells 882 astronaut cookies and ice cream sandwiches every week.
- There are still 18 original “launch crew” members, employees who started in 1992, working at Space Center Houston.
- Many celebrity guests have discovered the wonders of space exploration with us including Ron Howard, Michael Strahan, Tom Hanks, Gary Sinese, Jay Leno, Bill Nye and Chuck Norris.
Then and now
The lunar vault contains the largest collection of moon rocks on public display. Millions of visitors have felt the smooth surface of our lunar touchstone, which is one of only eight moon rocks in the world that people can touch. Click here to learn more about the lunar vault.
Humans have been living in space for almost 17 continuous years aboard the International Space Station. As the space station has grown and expanded, so has our International Space Station Gallery. Click here to learn more about the International Space Station Gallery.
NASA is working to perfect and advance robotic technology, and we’ve shared this work to inspire our visitors through the wonders of space exploration. Don’t miss our Robonauts in Astronaut Gallery and Starship Gallery, and see Valkyrie, NASA’s latest generation of Robonaut, in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility on the NASA Tram Tour.