Houston, what’s the problem?

Spaced out!

IT WAS no surprise that the biggest city in Texas would be the busiest. No culture shock, but the way they drive along the freeway is as ferocious as the F1 racers, the drivers in L.A., if not like our bus drivers who seem to incessantly want to set a record time. That is a problem, most especially when a stupid truck driver almost rammed into us. Paranoia was up levels higher after.

Houston, I need a pill.

Maybe I would be good up there in zero gravity where the paths you take will be zero traffic, except for occasional encounters with asteroid belts, meteors or advanced technological rides zooming in hyperspace. Otherwise, it must be a very serene spot to be among the stars and gaze at the glowing orbs.

Houston, I see the Great Wall of China.

If space was what I wished for, it’s space I got. Just around the corner was the Johnson Space Center, the official visitors’ center of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (renamed in 1973 in honor of the late president. It was established in 1961 as Manned Space Center), the Nasa center responsible for the design, development, and operation of human space flight. It was going to be an out-of-this-world journey through human adventures into space and the nearest star, the moon.

Houston, care to check my craters?

Moonwalk ala Neil Armstrong. MJ does it differently.
An educational center, the Johnson Space Center is home to space artifacts and hardware (Mercury 9 mission capsule Faith 7, Gemini 5 capsule, Apollo 17 command module, Lunar Rover Vehicle trainer, Skylab trainer mock-up and the Lunar Module Test Article 8 Saturn 5), and to make science more interesting, they turned their lecture into attractions – Martian Matrix/Kid’s Space Place, children’s play place; the Northrop Grumman Theater, for astronaut and space station; tram tours of JSC, for a view of the old and new Mission Control Centers, the restored Saturn V at the Rocket Park to name a couple; special tour to the Neutral Buoyancy Lab; short historical films viewing at the Destiny Theater (July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface uttering his famous lines – “Houston, the Eagle has landed” and “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” as he took his historic first steps on the Moon’s surface. Goosebumps!), it also holds the lectern from JFK promised a manned moon landing before 1970 at Rice Stadium; and, the moon rocks, space capsules and a full scale Skylab mock-up is at the Starship Gallery museum.

Summing it up, this is the only place in the world where you can see astronauts train for missions, touch a real moon rock, land a shuttle, and take a behind-the-scenes tour of Nasa.

Houston, I need more time in this “space”.

It was shooting the moon. No luck, the center was shutting its doors at 5PM (6 or 7 depending on the season) and everyone was herded out by the spacemen. How is it that when you are having so much fun, the hours are compressed into minutes and it just float by? Time in space literally zipped by here in JSC, and may I say in Houston as well. Three days was not enough time to explore this huge state, it was certainly not enough just catching up with good friends over a bottle of wine, or two and three, which was gobbled up before midnight. The night was young and we needed more.

Houston, now we have a real problem!

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 13, 2011.

Show & tell ala NASA

I Touch.

Just like in space.

Defying gravity

Earthlings.

Do not cut umbilical cord
Moon man JFK
Kids’ private space, the Martian Matrix

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