Culture + Style

Channel Your Inner Astronaut at the Houston Space Center

Live out your childhood career dreams at the Houston Space Center. (Photo: Alamy)

At some point in your life, you’ve probably been enamored with the idea of going to space. Maybe it was the Toy Story series and Buzz Lightyear constantly saying, “To infinity and beyond!” that sparked your interest. Maybe it was the short-lived stint you had in grade school when you decided it would be cool to bring space food for lunch. (Yes, we know, the freeze-dried ice cream was not as great as you had hoped.)

Whatever may have inspired you, there’s a certain appeal to the great unknown and expanse of outer space. Wannabes can plan a trip to Houston Space Center for an interactive, hands-on look at what life is like as an astronaut. Before your visit, check out these four tips that promise to make your launch into outer space as seamless as possible.

Houston Space Center
Visitors can discover the ins and outs of life in outer space. (Photo: Alamy)

Tip 1: Get to the tram first thing in the morning.

If you’re traveling with kids (or are just a super impatient adult), we recommend getting there as soon as the Houston Space Center opens and bee-lining it straight to the trams to avoid the inevitable crowds that build during the day. The 90-minute tram tour takes you up-close for a look at what’s happening inside the Space Center – from astronauts in training to the inner workings of the Mission Control center. Another plus-side to going in the morning: cooler weather if you’re visiting in the summer.

Tip 2: Book a Level 9 tour if you’d like a more intimate experience.

Want a behind-the-scenes experience that the normal admission ticket doesn’t offer? The Level 9 tour has you covered. Tours are only for people ages 14 and older, and the group is limited to 12 people. While the cost is nearly $90 a ticket, you’ll get more than enough bang for your bucket. Enjoy a full day tour (with lunch included) and discover attractions like the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, Mission Control Center and the Space Environment Stimulation Lab. True space lovers, this one is for you!

Houston Space Center
Ready for liftoff? (Photo: Alamy)

Tip 3: Eat lunch with a real-life astronaut.

Book a visit to the Houston Space Center on a Friday for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of talking to an actual NASA astronaut. Appropriately dubbed “Astronaut Fridays,” they offer guests the chance to hear first-hand stories of what life is like in space and what goes into preparing for missions. Be sure to check the schedule ahead of time as these events are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tip 4: Consider purchasing a City Pass.

Planning on hitting all the touristy hotspots in Houston? If so, consider purchasing a Houston CityPASS as a money-saving ticket to five of the city’s best attractions.

The pass gains you entrance to the Space Center, as well as Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo (or Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) and The Children’s museum of Houston (or Kemah Boardwalk). Tickets are $51 for adults and $41 for kids 11 and under. Purchase tickets online for easy booking!