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VIDEO: Explore Space Center Houston in a new way

How did we get to space? What does it take to survive in orbit? Will you be the one to step foot on Mars? Break the bonds of gravity and go explore at Space Center Houston.

Discover one-of-a-kind space exploration artifacts and interactive exhibits at Space City’s most iconic destination.

How was the video made?

Get a behind-the-scenes look at how our drone video was filmed in a Q&A with drone pilot Alberto Diaz. Diaz flew two different first-person view (FPV) drones to film the Space Center Houston video.

Q: How long have you been flying drones?
A: I’ve been building and flying drones since about late 2016.

Q: What certifications are required in order to fly a drone?
A: Besides needing the drone and the equipment, in order to work as a professional drone pilot, I needed to obtain my FAA Part107 Certificate. This certificate ensures that every pilot has the knowledge required to navigate the skies in a safe and responsible manner and complies with the regulations the FAA has set forth. In Addition to the certificate, many jobs require insurance, so I consider that a necessity as well.

Q: What equipment do you need?
A: In order to fly FPV drones, the main thing needed is a pair of goggles that can receive a 5.8GHz video signal. This is the “FPV” in FPV Drones. It makes you feel like you’re in the pilot seat!

Q: How big is your drone?
A: I use several different size FPV drones depending on the shot I need to capture. The one I use the most (and used to film most of the Space Center Houston video) is really small and fits in the palm of your hand!

First-person view (FPV) Drone

First-person view (FPV) Drone

Alberto Diaz wearing the first-person view headset for the FPV drones

Q: Do you ever customize your drones?
A: Yes! Most of my drones are custom built by me. Custom building FPV drones gives me the flexibility to capture very specific shots that a normal drone wouldn’t be able to catch. When filming inside Space Center Houston, I knew I needed something very small, and very safe while still preserving the camera quality. I decided to build a drone only weighing 180 grams, but still having the capability to shoot in 4K quality. In order to achieve this, I had to tear apart a GoPro down to the motherboard and then fit that inside a palm-sized drone. With this drone, I was able to safely fly around the exhibits without posing a threat, and it allowed me to go through the smallest of gaps like the hatch inside the Skylab.

Q: Is it disorienting to wear the goggles while you fly?
A: Yes! When I first started flying FPV, it took me a week or two to get used to the wide-angle perspective. My body would instinctively want to move around as I was trying to fly. Luckily, I don’t get motion sickness. Eventually it just clicks and your brain gets used to it.

Q: What are your favorite types of shots/maneuvers to do?
A: My favorite types of shots have to be fast 360-degree orbiting shots, diving shots (free fall with the nose down), and fast-paced tracking shots – like if I’m chasing a fast car. Going through really small gaps is fun to do too.

Q: What was your favorite thing to film at Space Center Houston?
A: Too many things to choose from! My favorite shot was probably going through the hatch inside the Skylab Trainer. Watching the astronaut spin made it feel like I was really floating in space. I also loved flying around the Saturn V rocket inside Rocket Park. Getting to film on NASA property was definitely one of the highlights.

Q: How do weather conditions affect your ability to fly?
A: I feel like I’m always looking at the weather forecast. Weather does affect my ability to fly my drones. For example, if wind speed is relatively high, it can throw off the performance of the drone. and I have to adjust my flight paths accordingly.

Alberto Diaz with FPV Drone
Alberto Diaz holding two FPV drones
Close Up of Drone Controller

Want to see more of Diaz’s work? Check out his page on Instagram and follow Space Center Houston as we share more of his gravity-defying shots of our artifacts and exhibits.

What can I see in the video?

  • Get a glimpse into the shuttle era in Independence Plaza, home to the historic shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905 and shuttle replica Independence.
  • Go inside the actual Skylab training module where astronauts first prepared for life in space.
  • See the massive Saturn V, the most powerful rocket ever flown.
  • Watch a film in one of our three theaters, including our five-story-tall Space Center Theater.
  • Tour Astronaut Gallery, home to one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of astronaut apparel and spacesuits.
  • Walk underneath our twice-flown SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
  • Look up at the historic Apollo-era Lunar Module LTA-8 in the main plaza.
  • Start your journey as you drive past our T-38 jet trainers.
  • Snap a selfie on the NASA Tram Tour as you visit NASA Johnson Space Center including astronaut training facilities.

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