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Photo Tour: Inside NASA's Johnson Space Center

Johnson Space Center from the Air

NASA

Opened in 1961, NASA's Johnson Space Center (originally called the Manned Spacecraft Center) was the main hub for the Gemini and Apollo programs. Today it serves as the American base of operations for the International Space Station. Let's take a step inside ...

Apollo Mission Control

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

This room at Johnson Space Center was the base of operations for the Apollo and Gemini missions. Each badge on the wall represents a different mission directed from the room. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark, preserved in its current form since 1985.

Mission Control Building, Lobby

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

All of NASA's manned spaceflight programs have been directed out of this building in Houston, Texas.

International Space Station Mission Control

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

This crew of Mission Controllers directs operations and communications on board the International Space Station from the ground in Houston. They give the residents of the station instructions and help them throughout their day.

Rover Simulation on Unidentified Planetary Body

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

It could be the moon, or a large asteroid, but engineers from Johnson Space Center have created this full-scale simulation of all-terrain vehicle on the surface of a cosmic body. The simulation is realistic. Getting stuck inside craters is a major feature of the mockup.

Docking Orion to the International Space Station

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

The Space Mission Simulation Facility allows astronauts working at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to practice on true-to-life simulations of real missions that are currently being flown or could fly in the future. This mockup of the Orion Space Capsule — the next NASA spacecraft that is scheduled to fly people into space — is only one of the many simulations housed in the facility.

Video Wall in the Space Mission Simulation Facility

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

This set of video monitors allows astronauts using the facility at Johnson Space Center to experience what driving on the surface of an asteroid could be like. Engineers at the center used their knowledge of a space rock's composition to develop the tool. The "mother ship" that would tether the astronauts can be seen on the right.

Grappling the Dragon, Simulation

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

Astronauts on board the International Space Station recently docked SpaceX's Dragon capsule to the orbiting laboratory. Before they did it in real life, however, they practiced in this life-size mockup of the cupola at Johnson Space Center. Officials at Johnson estimate that the astronauts spent more than 30 hours preparing with the simulation.

International Space Station Mockup in Neutral Buoyancy Lab

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

A true-to-life model of the International Space Station currently sits at the bottom of a pool at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Every morning, two astronauts train in the pool for up to six hours at a time wearing their spacesuits and practicing simulated space walks. When NASA's space shuttle program was still in operation, a full-scale model of a shuttle was used in the pool.

Scuba Diving Gear at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

Four scuba divers are required to be in the pool for every one astronaut. They work in two-hour shifts, allowing the divers to get some rest while others keep fresh eyes on the training astronauts.

Johnson Space Center's Building 9

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

Astronauts train on life-size models of spacecraft in this enormous building on the Houston, Texas campus. The once-and-future spaceflyers run drills in case of fire or other accidents when on board.

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