Houston is not only home to NASA but more importantly, its home to Clem & Max, our lovely friends who we are so happy to see.
First thing’s first, we went to Cavender’s, a legendary Texan cowboy boot retailer. If you’re an animal activist this is not the place for you. It was incredible to see the variety of skins used although I have to say it did make me question the fact that I actively participate in this industry. Being a leather and fur wearer myself and having created collections made from leather and suede I’m not so sure I will continue this way going forward. When the sales man showed me a boot that turned out to be elephant I genuinely nearly cried. I never thought I’d say this but maybe I will stick to fakes from now on.
After a few nights of catching up over wine and margaritas we are off to Johnson Space Centre and we couldn’t be more excited.
From the outset you can see the space shuttle piggybacking on a 747 plus a scattering of ginormous rockets. It all feels a bit surreal.
First stop, the Saturn V rocket. This is one of three remaining rockets built to send American astronauts to the moon as part of the Apollo program between 1960 and 1970.
It is so huge and so incredibly intricate when you look at it up close that it’s hard to comprehend how the human brain has created such a thing. I’m going to feel even more stupid the next time I can’t figure out how to navigate our Firestick.
The figures are mind blowing. Fully fuelled for liftoff, it weighed 2.8 mIllion kilograms. EACH of its 5 engines put out 1.5 million pounds of thrust, burning 15000 litres of propellant per SECOND. This is not an environmentally friendly rocket. Geeky types have tried explaining its power to less geeky types by saying it could accelerate a fully loaded, 35 carriage freight train from 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds. It could only have been built by Americans..
“It’s a hostile environment and it’s trying to kill you. The outside temperature goes from -450 degrees to +300 degrees. You sit in a flying thermos bottle”
Walter M. Schirra
The Apollo 11 crew; Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins & Edwin E. “Buzz” Alrdin. This was the first manned mission to land on the moon 20th July 1969. Or so they say…
“We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we have discovered the earth”
William A. Anders
I adore this quote. The earth is such an incredible planet, hence why I am keen to see so much of it. Today has put a new spin on the word travelling for me. Exploring our tiny planet is so easy and it’s filled with such rich and diverse cultures that it seems criminal to stay in one place forever, especially when you think how mind bogglingly huge the universe is and how teeny tiny we are within it.
This is an actual piece of the moon. This slightly blew my mind.
We were able to see new projects that NASA is working on. This includes ‘Orion’ showed below which they are hoping will be the first manned mission to Mars.
As well as Robinaut 2 (R2) which is an improved version of R1. This is currently being tested out at the International Space Station and will carry out simple, repetitive and dangerous tasks to minimise risks to humans.
Last but certainly not least, where the magic happens: Mission Control.
This is the room that controlled the Apollo missions along with many others. You can imagine the electric atmosphere that would have been felt in this room on the 20th July 1969.
Family and friends of the astronauts were welcome to sit in this viewing area whilst their loved ones were away to keep updated with the progress of the mission and occasionally speak to their heroic relatives.
The new mission control office is out of bounds but can be watched from a screen at the former office which is pretty cool.
It seems crazy that NASA is now working on missions to Mars and hoping that astronauts will orbit the red planet by 2030. The cynic in me has left me questioning why the last mission to the moon was 1972. Surely there is so much more to learn?