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ONE TANK TRIP — Out of this world: Celebrate the moon landing’s 50th anniversary at Space Center Houston

HOUSTON — The 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing is approaching and what better way to celebrate the triumph, revisit the past and learn the science while having some fun than to visit Space Center Houston?

The facility, located at 1601 NASA Parkway, Houston, is a non-profit science and space exploration learning center, the official visitor center of NASA Johnson Space Center, a Smithsonian affiliate and certified autism center.

  • Here you will discover The Real Thing, including flown spacecraft, a moon rock you can touch and a behind the scenes tour of the real facilities at Johnson Space Center.
  • Guests can go inside the one-of-a-kind Independence Plaza exhibit and enter the original shuttle carrier aircraft and the shuttle replica mounted on top.
  • Space Center Houston worked to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration.
  • There’s something for everyone with more than 400 things to see and do.

Have fun with interactive exhibits, touch a moon rock and meet Commander Quest. (Courtesy of Space Center Houston)

And what is the favorite thing to do while visiting Space Center Houston?

“Guests enjoy stepping back into time by visiting the Apollo 11 command module,” Vannessa Wade, public relations freelancer with Space Center Houston, said.

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing is July 20 and in honor of the landing and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, Space Center Houston is putting on a galaxy-sized celebration from July 16-24.

Enter the Lunar Vault where you can touch a real moon rock and view the largest collection of moon rocks on public display in the world. Study and analysis of these lunar samples has unlocked the mysteries of the moon, thanks to the Apollo missions that collected them. (Courtesy of Space Center Houston)

Weeklong celebration

The staff at Space Center Houston has a lot of events packed into the week leading into the history-making event and beyond, some of which include a special screening of Chasing the Moon and NASA Tram tours featuring the Apollo Mission Control Center at NASA Johnson Space Center.

Of the hundreds of buttons and controls located at these flight controller stations in Historic Mission Control, many have gone missing or have become faded after decades of use. (Courtesy of Space Center Houston)

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the room has been restored to how it originally looked in the 1960s. Visitors this summer will be among the first to see the restored control center and can feel like they are stepping back in time as they watch the original consoles operate and enjoy an immersive audio-visual experience that will allow them to witness the pivotal moments of the Apollo 11 mission in the same space where they happened. Availability will be limited, so timed tickets will be offered on site on a first-come, first-serve basis.

There are also Apollo 11 themed pop-up science labs, opportunities to hear from an historian, displays and giveaways, and a day-long celebration on July 20 plus more.

A leading science and space learning center, Space Center Houston draws 1 million visitors annually and is Houston’s first and only Smithsonian Affiliate. (Courtesy of Space Center Houston)

Space Center Houston is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week and is located at 1601 NASA Parkway, Houston. For more information and ticket pricing, visit spacecenter.org

This is the seventh in a series of stories called “One-Tank Trips,” about places families might visit on a tank of gas, enjoying overnight stays on small budgets.