Since our house is still full of boxes and a general embarrassment, we try to do as much as we can on the weekends to unpack, go through our junk, and finish projects. This past weekend was not one of those weekends. This is one of the few times of year that the weather is dry and the temperatures not too hot, so we tend to talk ourselves out of doing housework quite easily. Every year, the Johnson Space Center teams up with local chamber of commerce and put on the Ballunar Festival and Open House. Hot air balloons from all over the country come to race, compete in precision landing contests, and provide a lot of cool photo opportunities.
Along with that, the space center opens its doors for one day and anyone can come in and see their tax dollars at work. M and I are both badged, but we have never really taken the kids into some of the buildings.
First, there was a lot of pointing and yelling of E's favorite phrase "what's that???"
Then we got hungry, so there was roasted corn
After watching parachuters and amateur rocket launches, we headed to Building 2 where there are some really awesome murals depicting what lies in store for NASA - policing the heavens in tight pants.
The kids decorated a paper shuttle with beads and I looked up at this thing
They used it as an earth bound simulator for the lunar lander during the Apollo era. Pretty wild, huh?
After a quick stop for food, we headed to Building 9. Now, I know that many will argue that Mission Control is the coolest place to go, but I think Building 9 is my favorite. The Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF) is a building full of space station modules, shuttle simulators, and robots. Astronauts learn how to fly the shuttle and find out where they will get to store their stuff if they're on the Space Station.
We got a nice family photo
...and E continued to ask "what's that??"
L introduced himself to Robonaut I,
......and got to climb around on the Lunar Electric Rover (LER).
It was a great day, but a little bittersweet. Soon they will be dismantling the shuttle mock-ups and shipping them to museums. The LER has nowhere to land right now and things couldn't be more uncertain for our space program. I realize that because we live and work in this area and our jobs are tied to NASA , its budget woes surround us everyday. I also know that most people don't give it a second thought. I saw L and E's faces when we took them into that building and I know that if we could just show people how much there is left to learn and how exiting it is, we would have a chance to become explorers once again. This is truly inspiring and there just isn't enough of that is our world right now.