Space Week Texas was a blast! The first few days in Austin were warm and crowded, swarming with waves of children -- though luckily there never seemed to be long lines, because NASA chose spots with plenty of room.
The best was undoubtedly the day of educational events at the Lyndon B. Johnson Museum, with it's sprawling lawns and wide courtyard, where there was plenty of room to spread out all the "stations" for rockets, robotics, remote control rover games, space food and "spin-the-wheel" space trivia games. My favorite was watching the kids try on spacesuit gloves and then attempt mock repair tasks... in those bulky gloves, it's not so simple!
The mobile multi-media unit held exhibits with information about the Constellation Program, including the Ares rockets, the Orion crew space craft, and the Altair Lunar Lander. Inside the LBJ museum was a nostalgic look back at the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo eras – including American suits and crafts, plus a few Russian artifacts on loan from Star City.
Everyone got "swag bags" full of pamphlets, ISS calendars, activity books, space seeds for the garden, build-it-yourself cardboard models of various crafts, and commemorative NASA 50th Anniversary posters.
A few days later in College Station, the busiest day had over 600 school-children… quite the line of buses! Temperatures dropped due to a huge rainstorm that swept through the state, but luckily, most of the items of interest were indoors. Even larger halls were crammed with NASA relics, information and films about each Space Shuttle , our Moon, and all the planets of the solar system. Temporary exhibits also featured space collectibles from popular culture -- mostly Star Wars and Star Trek.
The best part here was a moving platform where you could sit reclined in a seat designed to mimic those in the Space Shuttle, and experience the sight and sounds and vibrating rumble of a launch! Very cool. Loud. But cool.
On the final evening, the screening of "Forbidden Planet" was laughable in its now-outdated technology predictions, but all in good kitschy fun. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but Leslie Nielsen even out-Shatnered Captain Kirk there a couple times. Before the show, I spoke to an elderly couple who said they saw the movie in a theatre the year they got married and thought it would be fun to see it again on the big screen -- as they approach their 54th wedding anniversary! Wow.
Space Week truly appealed to people of all ages... sure would be great if they could do this in every town! :)
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