NASA Takeoff

Today is Space Day!  In 1997 Lockheed Martin instituted Space Day to help encourage children to take an interest in math and science. Former astronaut John Glenn expanded Space Day in 2001 to International Space Day.  This day is important to Houston because of Houston’s longtime connection to Space.

Houston is home to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.  The Johnson Space Center has multiple parts: the actual Johnson Space Center, formerly known as the Manned Spacecraft Center, and later renamed the Johnson Space Center in 1973 in honor of the 36th President of the United States and native Texan, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Space Center Houston, the official visitor center.

Houston was selected as the location for the Johnson Space Center for several reasons: proximity to two universities, Rice University and the University of Houston, proximity to the U.S. Army’s San Jacinto Ordinance and proximity to a major telecommunications network.  The site for the Johnson Space Center also required availability of water transport and an all-weather airport, an established network of industrial workers and contractor support, an available supply of water and a year-round mild climate to facilitate outdoor work.  Houston met all of these requirements but it was also a culturally attractive community.

In honor of Space Day here are a few major milestones for the Johnson Space Center and Houston!

-The Johnson Space Center was the Mission Control Center for the first time for the Gemini 4 flight in 1965.

-The first astronauts returning from the moon were quarantined at the Johnson Space Center in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory.

-The visitor center (Space Center Houston) houses space artifacts and hardware such as Saturn V, Lunar Rover Vehicle trainer, Apollo 17 command module, Gemini 5 capsule, Skylab trainer mock-up and the Mercury 9 capsule.

-Starship Gallery inside of the Space Center Houston is home to space related artifacts like Moon rocks, space capsules and a full-scale Skylab mockup.

-The Johnson Space Center is home to the NASA astronaut corps.  Astronauts from the United States and around the world train for space exploration here!

-Astronaut training includes mathematics, navigation and guidance, orbital dynamics, oceanography, physics and astronomy.

– Potential astronauts must also complete military water survival, become SCUBA qualified and are required to pass a swimming test.

-All of NASA’s scientific and medical research is conducted by the lead facility, the Johnson Space Center.

-The Walt Disney Imagineering team played a role in helping to design Space Center Houston (the visitor’s center).

-The nonprofit Manned Spaceflight Educational Foundation operates the Space Center Houston facility.

-Employees of the Johnson Space Center include: 15,000 contractors, over 3,000 civil servants and around 100 astronauts.

Happy Space Day! Find out how you and your family can learn more about space and Houston’s role in space exploration by visiting the Space Center Houston:

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