Houston, Texas: Space Center Houston: Piggyback Space ShuttleSee the original Mission Control, and walk-thru the world's only piggyback 747 and Space Shuttle.
Visitor Tips and News About Space Center Houston: Piggyback Space Shuttle
Piggyback Space Shuttle
The Space Center Houston attraction at the Johnson Space Center was thwarted in its attempt to get a real Space Shuttle for display in 2011 -- and got so angry that it threatened a Congressional investigation.
That never happened, but in the end Houston one-upped its competitors. It acquired one of the 747s that flew the Shuttle cross-country, piggybacked, whenever it landed in California.Then it acquired the "high fidelity" replica of the Shuttle formerly at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, renamed it "Independence" (it was formerly "Explorer"), and bolted it to the roof of the plane. On Jan. 23, 2016, both were opened to the public for walk-thru tours as "Independence Plaza." The entire exhibit cost $14 million and stands eight stories tall.
The plane has two levels, with NASA displays on the lower and the flight deck on the upper. The Shuttle has two levels as well, including the cargo bay and cockpit. In all of its promotional literature, Space Center Houston takes care to point out that you can't go inside any of the four real Space Shuttles, but you can go inside this one.[RoadsideAmerica.com Team, 01/27/2016]
Space Center Houston
If you are into space exploration and don't need to be sold as to its importance to Mankind, go for the Level 9 VIP ticket. They only give out 11 a day in this post 9-11 world, but you get closer access and behind the scenes views than any other over the counter ticket.[Christopher Schmitt, 07/09/2011]
Johnson Space Center
The pandemonium of the main entrance area, with children and carnival barkers and gift shops and ice cream stands, makes one feel they have walked into the Big Top as opposed to one of the most historic locations of modern time.
Beyond the kiddie area, many nicely laid out and lit exhibits show mock ups and dioramas of what life in space was like from the beginnings to today.
What I found most awe inspiring was when our tour group was taken to the original Mission Control Room, the one that tracked and communicated with countless missions into space. This was where history was made, and I remember seeing this room many times on television as a child in the 1960s. It has not been used since the early 1970s and is still perfectly intact, right down to the vintage computer terminals with dial phones, and a red, "Hot Line" phone. Seeing the control room that helped put men on the moon alone is worth the price of admission to the Johnson Space Center.[D. Pruiksma, 08/19/2010]
Visitors to the old Johnson Space Center may be disappointed with the new, slick, "Space Center Houston." But if you haven't been there before, it may still have enough genuine space stuff to satisfy -- such as moon rocks, a lunar rover, and life-size training mockups of Skylab and the Space Shuttle.