A good museum never stops. There’s something else around every corner, behind every door. When you crawl out of one exhibit there’s another one right there waiting for you. You find yourself opening everything, peeking into every corner, reading every word to see what’s new and what’s next. Eventually, when they turn off the lights and push you out the front door, you’re not halfway to your transport before you’re fishing out a notebook and a pen, making a list of all the things you want to make sure not to miss on your next trip.
Space Center Houston is a good museum. I’ve just spent a couple of hours crawling up, down, over, under, and around their “Facing Mars” exhibit, taking pictures (not enough) and making notes (never enough…), and dealing in a very limited way with some of the questions involved in “should we go to Mars?” (I’ll get back to you on that one.)
And now, right in front of me, is a model of the Space Shuttle, and beside it a full-sized shuttle mockup with stairs beside it and a sign, “This way to the egress.” (No, not really.) Going up the stairs seems like a good thing to do. Up I go. There’s a stop at the landing to look inside, then on up to the lower deck. This is the “living quarters,” more or less, with individual cabinets and supply drawers for personal effects, food, and so on. The drawer that’s open right in front of me is someone’s personal drawer – toothbrush, nail clippers, chapstick, dental floss, a drawstring bag, three food packs (mac and cheese, creamed spinach, and strawberries) none of which look even remotely appetizing, and a foil pouch boldly labelled “coffee w/cream.” My first immediate reaction is “send me up to a space station with that for coffee and someone gets stuffed out an airlock,” but I guess you do what you gotta do…
There’s not a lot of immediate interest here, so up the stairs again to the flight/command deck… where there are half a dozen other people crowded in, leaving me very glad that NASA’s added several feet to the cabin (all carefully marked. You can, if you’re interested, mentally take that out to show the real size. It’s claustrophobic.). The pilot and command seats are blocked off with a thick sheet of plexiglass (visible in the Pilot’s Station shot below); visitors can look over the inhabitants’ shoulders
but not crawl down into the cockpit.
Lots of readouts and controls…. (This would appear to be a complicated bit of rocket science here.)