A person helps a younger person fit a space helmet onto their head

Photo courtesy Texas Department of Transportation

When in Houston, do as the astronauts do. That means investigate moon rocks, attend mission briefings, and see how you fill out a space suit. All that’s possible at the Johnson Space Center, which opened in November 1961 as the Manned Spacecraft Center and laid the groundwork for American space exploration. The campus in Clear Lake, built on 1,620 acres donated by Rice University, is a planet unto itself—its gravity pulls in more than 1.25 million visitors each year. While the astronauts are hard at work at this sprawling campus, visitors are invited to play: Trams run to the astronaut training facilities and Mission Control Center, where the launches for the Apollo mission and the International Space Station were coordinated. Space films are shown on one of the largest screens in Texas, and a new exhibit on Mars explores the next frontier. This previously unpublished photo by Texas Highways photographer Jack Lewis shows an awestruck youth getting an astronaut’s-eye view of the world. It’s a sight to behold—even from down here on planet Earth.

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