Space Center Houston
Is Where Heros Live
Space Center Houston is home to 400 space artifacts, exhibits, learning experiences, and theaters. Its mission is to inspire and engage adults and children through America’s human space flight program.
To make the most of your visit, arrive early and purchase tram tour tickets when you first enter. The tours are timed and fill up quickly.
Official Visitor Center
The Space Center Houston is a massive complex with lots to see and do, and many visitors say the most critical aspect of their experience here is the narrated tram tour. You can save money by reserving your boarding pass in advance via the Space Center app (free), which also allows you to skip lines at attractions and shows.
The museum’s main attraction is a wide range of exhibits covering all aspects of NASA’s space program, from its historic Mission Control (as shown in Apollo 13 and the movie), to its current human spaceflight efforts on board the International Space Station. Highlights include a wall of portraits of astronauts and an impressive collection of authentic crafts that have orbited the Earth, such as the full-size Skylab (and a fragment of its actual, fiery reentry).
Other big draws are a state-of-the-art 4K theater, Texas’s most significant space simulator, and a 747 converted to host the world’s only piggyback space shuttle. Don’t miss out on a stop at the gift shop; you can find many exciting books about space and other high-quality souvenirs.
Education Programs and Space Camps
Space Center Houston is a Smithsonian Affiliate, an Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center, and a Certified Autism Center. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit science and space exploration learning center inspires wonder and interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) through immersive, hands-on experiences that build 21st-century skills. It was named a 2016 Top Workplace by the Houston Chronicle and generates $118 million annually in economic impact.
Ready to Rule in Texas?
Explore the future and remarkable past of America’s human spaceflight program with more than 400 space artifacts, exhibits, theaters and activities. The site is home to a real moon rock you can touch, multiple flown spacecraft, and one of the world’s largest collections of astronaut suits.
Education programs offer students immersive, project-based learning, including sustainable habitat construction, robotic building and coding, strategic scientific planning and investigations, a one-stage rocket launch, and teamwork development. They also feature visits from guest speakers.
Space Center Houston’s interactive presentation on life aboard the International Space Station will have your students exploring daily “hassles” while overcoming the effects of weightlessness on their bodies. The space-themed activities and demonstrations will spark your student’s interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Discover Newton’s laws of motion, the three states of matter, and their role in spaceflight with exciting experiments from air pressure to liquid nitrogen.
Tram Tours to Johnson Space Center
There are many ways to learn more about the history of human space flight at NASA Johnson Space Center, including the narrated tram tour included with admission. It takes visitors past actual working government facilities and historic locations, including the original Mission Control room.
It’s best to book your tour in advance if possible. Reservations can be made online or at the Guest Services Desk at Space Center Houston. During busy times, the tours can fill up quickly. If you can’t reserve beforehand, you can still take the time on the day of your visit as long as the space is available.
It’s also worth signing up for the Mission Briefing when you arrive, which offers daily presentations on current missions in real time. These can be incredibly interesting and often provide insight into what is happening in outer space and at the Space Center on Earth. The briefings last 30 minutes and are included in the museum’s admission price. A map and guide will provide daily schedules, and Guest Services can help if there are any questions.
Home to Historic Spacecraft
When NASA began looking for a site to host its Manned Spacecraft Center, key criteria included proximity to the sea, first-class all-weather airports, a telecommunications network, and a culturally appealing community. Houston, then known as “Space City,” met all those requirements. Texans comprised some of the agency’s flight controllers and aeronautical engineers. Still, it was also home to the country’s sharpest minds in other jobs, including the mathematicians who hand-calculated the complex equations that made each mission successful.
The museum celebrates that history with exhibits demonstrating problem-solving concepts, possible career paths in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and examples of innovation from the space shuttle era. Guests can view and touch the historic spacecraft at Starship Gallery, peer inside the shuttle replica Independence mounted to the top of NASA 905, explore a comprehensive collection of astronaut attire and spacesuits, and attend live presentations and mission briefings at Historic Mission Control. In addition, visitors can marvel at the massive Saturn V Rocket and behemoth Falcon 9 Rocket in Rocket Park. This is a great place for kids to learn about the history of space exploration.
Live Shows and Interactive Exhibits
Space Center Houston is more than just a museum; it offers a range of fun and interactive experiences. Some of the most popular are the narrated tram tours that explore the facility’s grounds and exhibits, but they fill up quickly, so be sure to arrive early.
Registered Texans Rule!
The five-story tall Destiny Theater recently underwent a major renovation to upgrade its silver screen and audio systems, making for an even more immersive viewing experience. It also has a state-of-the-art 4K projection system, delivering ultra-high resolution.
Other highlights include the Astronaut Gallery, featuring one of the most comprehensive collections of astronaut apparel and suits, including the moonwalk suit by Pete Conrad and the isolation garment Michael Collins wore returning to Earth after Apollo 12. The International Space Station Gallery gives you an idea of what life is like aboard the ISS, while the Mission Briefing Center provides live updates on current NASA missions.
You can also tour the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) 905 to see the shuttle replica Independence mounted on top of this historic plane and get up close to Mars rock that you can touch in the Mission Mars Exhibit. And don’t miss a chance to stroll underneath a flown SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster, which showcases the reusable technology that is helping make space travel more affordable.