Aviation

9 NASA Visitor Centers to Visit across U.S.

Where to see a NASA space shuttle.
The Space Shuttle Orbiter Discovery over the Earth. Photo Credit: Pixabay

NASA Visitor Centers to Visit across U.S.

To learn more about NASA, head to one of its visitor centers across the U.S. See everything from Apollo capsules to space suits to retired Space Shuttle orbiters. Some visitor centers offers viewing platforms for launches.

Kennedy Space Center
Space Center Houston
U.S. Space and Rocket Center
Virginia Air and Space Center
NASA Ames Research Center
NASA Goddard Visitor Center
INFINITY Space Center
NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center
NASA Glenn Visitor Center

Where to see a retired Space Shuttle
See the retired Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Florida

One of the official NASA visitor centers and the Mothership of NASA. Named after John F. Kennedy who launched the 1960s space race. It’s also close to one of the launch facilities, Cape Canaveral.

If you’re visiting just one NASA visitor centers, this is the one. As a bonus, it’s a few hours away from Orlando.

First up, see the retired Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis. Walk through the Rocket Garden to see a visual history of the evolution of the rocket. Another must is the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Also board the tour buses for the working Kennedy Space Center’s Spaceflight Center, including a look at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. And the upcoming, Mission to Mars with live shows and interactive exhibits.

Located at Space Commerce Way. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. most days with later seasonal closing times. Adult admission is $57, and kids 3 to 11 are $47, this includes the bus tour and IMAX film.

Space Center Houston

As an official NASA visitor center of NASA, it’s also home to the Johnson Space Center. Named after Lyndon B. Johnsonwho championed the human space flight and the Mission to the Moon in the 1960s.

This is where Mission Control is located for NASA launches and see the original 1969 Apollo Mission Control. The majority of Astronaut training occurs at the Johnson Space Center and it’s also responsible for development of human space flight.

In a sprawling complex that requires a tram ride to see all the attractions. The standout exhibit is the original shuttle carrier, NASA 905 with a full-scale orbiter replica mounted on top.It’s a converted Boeing 747 used to transport the Space Shuttle Orbiters.

Located at 1601 NASA Parkway. Open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with seasonal hours.Adult admission is $29.95 and kids (3 to 12) are $24.95.

Explore the U.S. Space and Rocket Center as one of the things to do in Huntsville.
One the Saturn V rockets hangs from the ceiling of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

U.S. Space and Rocket Center Huntsville Alabama

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center features a sprawling complex with largest collection of rockets and space memorabilia in the world. A day’s worth of discovery and learning awaits along with an IMAX theater and glimpse into Space Camp.

As a Smithsonian affiliate and the Official Visitor Center of NASA’s Marshal Space Flight Center, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center features a rocket park with27 missiles and rocketsthat grew into the NASA program. Find theSpace Shuttle Pathfinder,a test simulator along with one of the original Saturn V rockets.

This location is also home to Space Camp, a specialized camp for kids, educators and adults. Participants work through a mock Astronaut program.

Located at One Tranquility Base. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Adult admission is $25 and $17 for students 5 to 12 with kids 4 and under entering for free.

Marshall Space Flight Center Bus Tour

The Marshall Space Flight Center houses NASA’s research and development facility for programs like the mission to Mars. Take a guided bus tour of the facility that remains closed to the public.

A bus tour departs daily from the U.S. Space and Rocket Center for a two-hour guided tour. Stops include the historic test site of former rockets, the International Space Station (ISS) payload operations and the Propulsion Research and Development Laboratory.

Tours are limited to U.S. citizens and a picture ID is required for all over 16. Tickets are $20 (5+) for all and kids 4 and under are free.

Visit one of the nine visitor centers with public tours across the U.S. See space suits, command modules and even a retired Space Shuttle. #NASA #Space

Virginia Air and Space Center

Visit the official NASA Visitor Center of Langley Research Center. And it’s the birthplace of America’s space program.

Learn about 100 years of flight and see 30 historic aircraft. Don’t miss the Apollo 12 Command Module that landed on the Moon. Find an IMAX theatre as well.

Located at 600 Settlers Landing Rd, Hamilton, Virginia. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and closed most Mondays. Adult admission is $20 and kids (3 to 18) are $16.50.

NASA Ames Research Center California

In a smaller facility located in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, learn about Ames contributions to current and past NASA missions. With rotating exhibitions, see the Lunar Glove Box used for examining the moon samples from the Apollo mission. Or see the Mercury Redstone capsule launched in December 1960.

Located inside the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field off U.S. 101. It’s free and takes about an hour to explore. Visit Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

NASA Goddard Visitor Center Maryland

This facility focuses on Earth Science so learn how NASA explores Earth from Space.

Learn about the James Webb telescope built at Goddard Space Flight Center. Then learn about Hubbard Space Telescope that’s been in orbit for 25 years.

Launched in 2009, learn about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and its mission to map the moon’s surface. Looking for ice, or water, and suitable places to land on the Moon, the LRO’s mission continues.

Don’t miss a walk through Goddard’s Rocket Garden and the Astrobiology Walk.

Located next to Goddard Space Flight Center on ICESat Rd., it’s free to visit. Open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. September to June and open till 5 p.m. in July and August. And open Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. year-round.

INFINITY Space Center Mississippi

It’s the official NASA visitor center for NASA Stennis Space Center. Learn about the evolution of the NASA space program starting with the Gemini Project to the Apollo Program and continuing to the ISS, or International Space Station. Also learn about the future of NASA with the latest on the SLS, Space Launch System. It will get humans to Mars.

See the Apollo 19 Saturn V first stage booster, from the cancelled Apollo program. Also find the Apollo 4 command module.

Located at 1 Discovery Circle in Pearlington, Mississippi, in southeast Mississippi. Open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission (14+) is $18, kids (4 to 13) are $11.

NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center Virginia

This facility explains the role of orbital and sub-orbital rockets and scientific balloons. It’s also a launch facility for sub-orbital missions.

Located at Building J20, Route 175 on Wallops Island. It’s free to visit. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

NASA Glenn Visitor Center Ohio

Located inside the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland learn about living in space at the International Space Station. Then see the Skylab 3 Apollo Command Module.

Located at 601 Erieside Avenue. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Adult admission to the Great Lakes Science Center is $16.95, students with ID $15.95 and kids (2 to 12) $13.95.

Other NASA Sites

The Jet Propulsion Laboratoryoffers tours for groups or individuals with advance notice. See a movie then take a tour of the Karman Visitor Center, Space Flight Operations Facility, Earth Science Center and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility.

Located at 4800 Oak Grove Dr. in Pasadena, California. All visitors 18 and over must present a valid driver’s license or passport. All non-U.S. visitors must present a passport or resident visa card.

The Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, is listed as an official NASA visitor center. Though it doesn’t not support public tours on a regular basis.

Read More:
Where to see a Retired Space Shuttle
Best Aviation Museums across the U.S.

 

2 Comments

  1. This is a great resource! I have a space crazy 7 year old and we have the JPL firmly on our wish list for this year but be great to include one of the other centers when traveling. 🙂

    • Catherine Parker

      Hi Kate, Thanks for stopping by. I always adding museums when I’m on the road. Lots of exciting things happening in Space right now. Keep on exploring. ~Catherine