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May 31st, 2012

Space Center Houston

Bright and early we met Jim Metzner at our hotel. He gave Isabella, her dad and me a ride to NASA. There we met Wes, the cameraman, who would be taking video of our visit. After we had our microphones situated we met a mechanical engineer, Jeff, who began our tour. Our first stop was at the remake of the Apollo 13 Mission Control Center. He then led us to a demonstration space module where people are trained for their trip to space. We even got to go inside! Then he showed us his area of expertise- a space toilet! We toured the Habitability Design Center where they design mockups of future space stations.

My favorite part of the tour came next, the Food Lab.  We met Vickie Kloeris, the manager of the lab. Here is where food is tested and freeze-dried for outer space. Not only did we get to take a tour, but we also got to taste-test space food. It wasn’t in tubes or anything, but was warmed and ready to eat.  Most of what we tried was actually quite delicious. My favorite out of the 32 was the Mac n’ cheese.  It is important for the astronauts to have food similar to what they have at home so they don’t get home sick.

After taste testing, we were showed how they prepare food for space. Isabella and I put on gloves, hairnets and masks to package brownies for space. These brownies won’t actually go to outer space but hopefully they will make the trip back to Asheville safely so I can show my family.

Our tour of NASA ended at lunchtime.  We met my mom and we all headed over to Fuddruckers for lunch and to meet one of the contest judges, Jay Niel. He was really funny.  We enjoyed our yummy hamburgers and then drove to the Space Center Houston. We had a great time. We explored the Science of Fear exhibit, which included displays of fear of loud sounds, fear of animals, and fear of many other things.

Then we had the opportunity to watch a demonstration of Life in Space. I was chosen to help with the demonstration, which was a lot of fun because I had just learned so much about space life at NASA.

I helped the presenter demonstrate how astronauts store their clothing in drawers (with a net so they don’t float away), how they sleep strapped in to a space bed. It was like a sleeping bag stuck to the wall with a Velcro strap across my head. I also helped explain how a space toilet works. Thankfully, she didn’t ask me to demonstrate that. She showed us how astronauts shower in space, which is more like a wipe down with a damp cloth. Lastly, she explained to the audience how astronaut food is packaged and how an astronaut prepares it in space. I liked helping with the demonstration. She gave me photos of astronauts who are right now living on the space station.

We then took a tour of the Starship Gallery. Jay pointed out a very sparkly red, white and blue vest that was worn by Gene Krantz, the NASA flight director of the Apollo missions. It was neat to hear his story because he the Krantz family.

After a visit to the gift shop and buying a few souvenirs for my brother and sister, we decided we needed a little rest before dinner and went back to the hotel. We met Jim for dinner at a local Houston restaurant called T-Bone Toms. Glenda Johnson, one of our NASA tour guides, joined us for dinner too. There was live music Houston style! What a day. We walked back to our hotel, which was just around the corner, and fell asleep.

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