Latest News

Astronaut Eugene Cernan dies at 82

Celebrate Cernan’s memory in
Starship Gallery

  • Discover the Apollo 17 Command Module in which Cernan traveled to the moon in 1972.
  • See a recreation of Cernan excavating rock and soil samples from the moon during the Apollo 17 mission on the Lunar Landscape.
  • Touch a moon rock and see other moon rocks and soil in our Lunar Vault. Apollo 17 brought back the most lunar samples of all missions.

The last man to stand on the moon died Monday.

Eugene Cernan, 82, led the final Apollo mission in 1972, the last time a crewed mission went to Earth’s lunar satellite. Cernan was the 11th person to walk on the moon, but his career left a much wider mark than just those footprints in the lunar soil.

“Retired Navy Captain Gene Cernan not only left his footprints on the moon, but in our hearts,” said President and CEO William T. Harris of Space Center Houston. “He will forever be remembered as an inspiration to us all and a strong advocate for Space Center Houston’s educational mission. He helped launch the pathway for future explorers to discover unlimited opportunities.”

Cernan served as a pilot in the Navy, had a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering and flew into space three times. He also earned two NASA Distinguished Service medals, two Navy Distinguished Service medals and the Navy’s Distinguished Flying Cross.

During his first trip into orbit aboard Gemini 9, Cernan became the second American to take a spacewalk. Cernan also descended towards the moon in the lunar lander during the Apollo 10 mission but did not land. As such, he’s the only person to have made two different lunar descents.

Cernan was the commander of Apollo 17, leading Harrison Schmidt down to the lunar surface in the lander “Challenger.” Their command module, America, is on display in Space Center Houston’s Starship Gallery.
In all, the astronauts brought back 243 pounds (110 kilograms) of lunar samples and spent 75 hours on the surface of the moon.

Cernan’s final words from the moon voiced an idea he championed throughout his life: that he not be the final person to stand on that lunar soil. “America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow,” Cernan said. “As we leave the moon and Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.”

Godspeed, John Glenn

In a spacecraft about the size of a phone booth, John Glenn did more than leap tall buildings in a single bound. He became an American hero.

Artifacts related to John Glenn at Space Center Houston:

  • See the Friendship 7 Umbilical Disconnect from Glenn’s historic orbit around Earth in Starship Gallery.
  • Walk the Orbiter Access Arm path that Glenn took to board Shuttle Discovery in 1998 in Independence Plaza.
  • Get a glimpse of Glenn’s 1962 and 1998 crew portraits on the Astronaut Gallery Wall in Astronaut Gallery.

The first American to orbit the Earth died Thursday at the age of 95. Glenn was one of the original astronauts, part of the Mercury 7. In a wonderfully full life, Glenn became a Marine Corps colonel, served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio and went back into space in 1998 aboard the shuttle orbiter Discovery.

Bravery defined Glenn’s life, beginning with the 59 combat missions he flew during World War II. Glenn then flew an additional 63 combat missions during the Korean War.

Only after putting his life on the line hundreds of times did Glenn reach the really scary part of his career. In 1959, he was selected as a member of the inaugural group of astronauts.

“The very first time we saw a missile launch, it went up and blew up at 27,000 feet and that wasn’t a confidence builder,” Glenn recalled, laughing at the memory in a 2012 event celebrating the 50th anniversary of his Mercury mission. Undaunted, Glenn continued. “You became the best-trained person you could be and that’s what we did,” Glenn said.

Glenn flew on the third crewed Mercury mission, following Alan Shepard and Virgil “Gus” Grissom into space for NASA. Glenn even helped in the design of NASA’s spacecraft, contributing to some of the early designs for the cockpit layout of the Apollo Program.

After retiring from the astronaut program in 1964, Glenn successfully ran for the Senate in 1974. With his third re-election in 1992, Glenn became the first Ohio senator to win four consecutive terms.

In 1998, Glenn flew on STS-95 aboard Discovery, a nine-day mission during which the crew supported a variety of research payloads including deployment of the Spartan solar-observing spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope Orbital Systems Test Platform, and Glenn’s investigations on space flight and the aging process.

For Glenn, though, all his accomplishments were driven by a simple philosophy. “If there is one thing I’ve learned in my years on this planet,” Glenn said in 1997. “It’s that the happiest and most fulfilled people I’ve known are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self-interest.”

Independence Plaza special airs Nov. 21


Innovative thinking turned an impossible dream into reality. Plenty of ingenuity and perseverance led to the creation of both the shuttle carrier aircraft program and the newest international landmark, Independence Plaza.

Discover the history and story behind Space Center Houston’s newest exhibit in a 30-minute special airing at 7 p.m. Nov. 21 on Houston’s KHOU television station.

Hosted by Deborah Duncan, “Independence Plaza: Innovation at Work” will go behind the scenes inside the world’s only exhibit complex, where visitors soon will enter both the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence and the shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905, on which it is mounted.

Get a sneak peek at the incredible exhibits and learn why Houston, the state of Texas and the world are about to experience a one-of-a-kind attraction.

Be sure to join us for the grand opening of Independence Plaza on Jan. 23.

Learn more here.

Independence Plaza gets a mission patch


Every human mission NASA has flown since Gemini V has its own patch, created by the astronauts venturing into space.

The newest international landmark will send visitors into orbit once it opens on Jan. 23, so it’s getting its own unique mission patch and logo. The design reflects the remarkable ingenuity and achievement of the Space Shuttle Program and the innovators who conceived of the plan to ferry shuttles on the back of a 747.

The logo has a patriotic flair, with a flag behind NASA 905 and the shuttle replica Independence. On that flag are five grouped stars to denote the orbiters that flew into space and one single star to represent Enterprise, the orbiter that proved our Boeing 747 could carry a shuttle.

More about Independence Plaza

The spirit of exploration is calling

Call it the final frontier or the undiscovered country. After exploring all there is to see on this blue marble we call home, the next great adventure in exploration awaits in deep space.

Join us at Space Center Houston as we celebrate explorers this month. From the brave pioneers of the past, like the Mercury 7, to the future leaders of deep space exploration in our Be the Astronaut exhibit, the spirit of discovery is alive and well in the space program.

Find out how Gordon Cooper piloted his Mercury capsule, “Faith 7,” in our Starship Gallery. Learn about the robots and astronauts who will lead the way to Mars in our fall exhibit. Discover NASA’s next steps in the Orion program with our large-screen movie, Journey to Space.

Begin your next adventure today.


Winter camps bring holiday fun to young explorers

Image_Winter Camps_100

Space Center Houston’s educational winter camps challenge future young space cadets with robotics, rocketry and adventures about the red planet this Dec. 21-23 and 28-30.

“Campers will have fun and learn about engineering a rover, exploring the world of science fiction using light sabers and hovercrafts and how 3D printing works,” said Daniel Newmyer, director of education for the nonprofit. “As an educational center, our winter camps bring learning to life in exciting, hands-on activities focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Through interactive, immersive educational programs, Space Center Houston offers a diverse collection of winter camps perfect for ages 4-11.


Space Center Houston earns U.S. State Department Grant

The nonprofit Space Center Houston has earned a prestigious U.S. Department of State grant that will unite it with two other science centers in France and Singapore in a collaborative global education project.


The Museums Connect grant funds a future-looking six month initiative focused on teaching youth about space science, technology and global citizenship. The collaborative effort will draw teens from the three countries to work together to solve real-world problems in a fun cultural exchange.


Home School Day inspires families

Immerse your family in exciting hands-on science during Space Center Houston’s Home School Day 2015: Families of the Future slated 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 8. Get half off regular admission through Sept. 18.


This special day offers families of home-schooled children multiple immersive activities to engage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Children will have fun racing rovers; designing a smartphone application; building a Martian habitat using 3D printing; and learning about deep space exploration.


Space Center Houston participates in national tourism summit

Space Center Houston, Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center, is one of the leading destinations participating in the Tourism Summit on Sept. 10 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Houston Tourism Summit

Set in the fourth largest city in the country, the national summit will feature a full day of dynamic workshops from experts in travel and tourism. Attendees will gather for an opportunity to learn about industry trends, marketing tools, tips and best practices to increase visitors.

Joining a panel discussion on enhancing the visitor experience, Gayden Cooper, director of communications and external relations for Space Center Houston, will speak about the center’s comprehensive plans to draw more visitors.

Since opening in 1992, Space Center Houston has welcomed more than 17 million visitors and currently hosts more than 800,000 guests annually. Visitors come from all over the world to experience the center’s interactive educational programs, see more than 400 space artifacts, learn about future NASA missions, go behind the scenes on the NASA Tram Tour and much more.

Learn more about Space Center Houston.

Space Center Houston has biggest August ever

Space Center Houston, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center, drew record-breaking attendance in August, resulting in the center’s biggest August since opening in 1992.

NewsCenter (18)

The nonprofit has welcomed more than 17 million visitors since it opened in 1992 and has a $45 million economic impact on the greater Houston area. More than 100,000 teachers and students from around the world visit the center annually to take part in educational programs focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.

There is always something new to see at Space Center Houston. Visitors can touch a moon rock, see real spacecraft and go behind the scenes at NASA. With more than 800,000 visitors annually, people come from all over the world to view the largest collection of space artifacts in the Southwestern United States.

Learn more about the 400 things to see and do at the center.

Nationally awarded education director joins the center

Newmyer, Daniel

Top executives continue to land at Space Center Houston. The educationally focused nonprofit’s latest management addition is Daniel Newmyer, a nationally awarded space science educator and business owner appointed as the new director of education.

Newmyer is a seasoned educator with approximately 20 years combined in formal and informal education and 20 years of business leadership and project management experience. Newmyer leads the center’s interactive educational programs attended by more than 100,000 educators and students annually from around the world.



Space Center Houston announces opening of international landmark


It’s a date! Space Center Houston will open the new international landmark Independence Plaza on Jan. 23. The eight-story-tall multiple-exhibit complex is the biggest project for the nonprofit since the center opened in 1992 and features a shuttle replica mounted on top of the first shuttle carrier aircraft.

The announcement comes on the anniversary of the first free flight of a shuttle on Aug. 12, 1977, when Enterprise was released from atop what is now Space Center Houston’s shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905. That SCA ferried shuttles 223 times and now carries the high-fidelity shuttle replica Independence, the world’s only shuttle mounted on an SCA and the only place where the public will be able to enter both.

Learn more about the project.


Space Center Houston presents world premiere Be the Astronaut


Space Center Houston’s immersive fall exhibit takes visitors on a journey to the Moon, Mars, asteroids, Jupiter and beyond in the world premiere of Be the Astronaut, sponsored by the city of Webster from Oct. 3 to Jan. 3.

In “Be the Astronaut,” produced by Eureka Exhibits, visitors will learn how an astronaut trains for a deep space mission, drive a rover, use a robotic arm, plan a mission in two dimensions and fly it in three dimensions. The exhibit features two talking robots with whom visitors can interact with and watch as they move throughout the exhibit. Exclusively at Space Center Houston, visitors will see NASA artifacts that illustrate the technology that is being developed for future missions at NASA Johnson Space Center.

Discover new worlds and push the boundaries when you take control in Be the Astronaut.