Texas Experiences: Space City

May 02, 2016

Last December, each H4H Crew member was challenged to complete a fun “Texas experience.” The challenge was simple. Everyone received an experience that involved traveling to a city in Texas, completing an activity and staying at hotel. Naturally, we were all excited pretty excited about it. We’ll be sharing our experiences here on the blog…


For my Texas experience, I took a drive to Houston. Home of the Johnson Space Center and the Galleria Shopping Center. My sister and I drove in on a Friday night and our first stop was at the Hyatt Regency Galleria where we were staying for the night. Finding the hotel was relatively easy, the lobby was clean and has a sleek, modern feel. Our room was up on the 11th floor which offered great views!

Saturday morning we were off the the Johnson Space Center, which is actually in Clear Lake, Texas. The drive took us about 40 minutes from the Galleria area. It was spring break and it showed! The lines were long! I was afraid that we’d be surrounded by nothing but children but once we arrived it very clear that many adults were heading to the space center without children. The first 5 minutes were slightly overwhelming just with so many different displays and demos. After we picked a display as our starting point we were off to learn some new things!

We watched a quick demonstration about how astronauts live in space and then decided to take a free tram tour. We jumped in line, snapped a quick photo and off we went! There were 3 tours to pick from, the old famous mission control room, the astronaut training facility and the new mission control room that is so new it hasn’t been used yet. We decided to go with the new mission control room.

It was a chilly day in Houston so I suggest taking a jacket if you’re going in mid-March. On the way to the mission control center we learned that the Johnson Space Center was actually a pasture for cattle before it turned into a learning facility. You will still see a few longhorn on your way from the space center to the mission control center. Once in the mission control center we were directed to a flight of stairs that took us a few floors up. Then we were seated in an observation area with huge windows that look straight into the new control room. We learned that the space program is still being run on Windows XP!

Since you can’t really take time off from monitoring the astronauts in space, they had to build a new center with new equipment and up to date computer programs so they can just move everyone at the same time without disrupting the astronauts in space. We also learned that there are 6 astronauts in the International Space Station at this very moment. 3 of which just arrived last week!

I think the most interesting thing we learned is that astronaut Scott Kelly just came back to Earth after an entire year in space. While he was there they researched how to grow vegetables in space and he was able to eat the romaine lettuce he grew, although he asked if next time they can figure out how to grow a cheeseburger instead! Kelly also has an identical twin brother who is a retired astronaut, Mark Kelly. They are both now part of a study that shows how a year in space impacts the body. NASA will compare any changes between the identical brothers.

After our trip to space, it was time for lunch. We went to Tookie’s Hamburgers a few miles up the road. We started with the pelican eggs appetizer, jalapeños stuffed with cheese and bacon and fried. We then split the squealer burger which is a handmade beef patty blended with bacon (I obviously have a thing for bacon). I suggest stopping by if you ever get the chance, it’s a cute and very busy place.

Once lunch was over it was time to hit the road and head back home. Until next time Houston!