Day 64 - Houston, We Have A Problem.....June 24 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 28 °C
Before anyone says anything, I know that that is not the correct phrase uttered. The actual words were “Hey Houston, we’ve had a problem here”, which was said by James A. Lovell, Jr aboard Apollo 13 after an explosion in an oxygen tank disabled the spacecraft.
My title refers to the fact that it is our 24th Wedding Anniversary today & I didn’t have a card or present, luckily nor did Jackie!
The weather was appalling, which lent itself to the perfect Song of the Day - Island in the Rain by The Men They Couldn’t Hang, which was one of our wedding songs. But it is not.
Lastly I looked at the local news & discovered that over the weekend, 2 children had died in Galveston in separate incidents, but both died as a result of being left in cars in the blistering heat. Nice place!!
We got saturated loading up the car & then headed back towards Houston & to the Space Center (Even NASA can’t spell Centre properly!). Upon arrival at the Space Center it was still pouring down & we got soaked again running to the entrance. Inside I enquired about the NASA App that you could download & ended up speaking to an employee with a strong Scottish accent, who emigrated from Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Another employee also approached us & tipped us off to take the 2 tours as soon as possible, because they got busier & busier.
We took her advice & walked straight on to the tram for the Mission Control Center & Rocket Park. The tram took us around the NASA complex, pointing out what each of the buildings specialised in. We stopped at the Mission Control Center Building & were taken to a viewing gallery of an actual Mission Control Center. It is one of just five MCCs used by NASA & this one was actually being used by students in their 5th year of training, being put through their paces. When they successfully complete the course, they will be flying the International Space Station.
We had a NASA employee provide us with an overview of the different roles within the MCC & he explained that we were looking at the ‘gold standard’ MCC. It would soon actually be used for Project Orion, the Space Mission to Mars.
The tram then continued around the NASA complex, stopping at Memorial Grove for a moments silence for the astronauts killed in service. A tree had been planted for each one of them.
We were then dropped off at Rocket Park, which had a couple of rockets outside, but the highlight was in a massive building. It was an actual Saturn V Rocket, it was due to go into Space, but didn’t due to funding being rescinded in 1973. Saturn V was the biggest Rocket ever made & was the Rocket that took man to the moon. It was enormous, 363ft long & weighed 310,000 lb.
We took the tram back then queued for the next tour, the Astronaut Training Center. We got lucky & didn’t have to wait too long for the next tour. This tour took us into a huge building where there were mock ups of all transportation & capsules that an astronaut might have to work in. It had weightless frames, robots & all sorts of other things that astronauts had to train with.
After this tour, we went through an exhibition all about the Space Shuttle, then we went into the interiors of the NASA Boeing 747 & the Space Shuttle, which sits on top. It was fascinating & there were films explaining how they managed complete this incredible engineering feat.
We watched several other films, including the moment & reaction when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after take of & looked at numerous other displays. Unfortunately Jackie’s attention span lasts only about 4 hours, so after 5 & a half hours we called it a day. The Space Center was much better than we had expected & the what seemed quite hefty admission fee of $29.50, turned out to be good value. It was a very enjoyable visit & another highlight of our trip.
The plan was to drive east for a couple of hours & find somewhere to stay for the night. We had provisionally identified the town of Orange as a place to stay. However when we got to Orange, we discovered it to be a Port town & a bit scruffy. We looked at the Motels & they were full of road workers with pickup trucks. We didn’t stop.
We continued east into Louisiana & to the small town of Vinton. It had a Motel that seemed ok, but the few restaurants only sold burgers or Mexican, neither of which we could stomach again just yet.
So on we went to the dubiously named town of Sulphur. It is still a town full of road workers, but we checked in to the Baymont Inn, paying $11 less than the receptionist quoted us. After a paper cup of wine in our room, we walked along the grass verge of the main road to the Hong Kong Chinese Buffet. We had the $13 eat all you can buffet with a vat of Coke, they didn’t sell alcohol. We know how to celebrate!!
It was interesting to now hear a distinctly different American accent, before it was the Texan Twang, now we are hearing the Louisiana Drawl. In the restaurant, we overheard a white man, or ‘cracker’ as they are derogatorily known, on the phone negotiating to sell his freezer full of meat including a whole ‘Gator. It feels like we are in a different country & not one that is often visited by English people, particularly in Sulphur!
Song of the Day - Astronaut by Professor Green.
Bonus Songs of the Day :-
Island in the Rain by The Men They Couldn’t Hang
Space Oddity by David Bowie
Life on Mars? by David Bowie
Space by New Model ArmyRead more