They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and from an astronomical viewpoint, it’s hard to disagree. Not only is Texas the largest state in the contiguous United States, and second largest by population, its history with the United States space program surpasses much of the rest of the country. In 1961, the Johnson Space Center (JSC) was established in the Clear Lake Area of Houston, and has since been used as NASA’s headquarters for pursuing human space exploration. The Gemini Project, the Apollo Program, and the Skylab project were all conducted here, and its Mission Control Center (MCC), which is open to visitors and was first used for Gemini IV, is still used for every American human space mission. These days JSC serves as the lead NASA center for missions related to the International Space Station.
Look beyond the Johnson Space Center and things only get bigger. Remember the Alamo? The Spanish mission and fortified compound is famous for having been defended to the death by 180 brave volunteers during the Texas Revolution. The site, which is visited by over 2.5 million people every year, is revered as a symbol of Texans’ struggle for independence and freedom, a sentiment that is woven resolutely into the state’s proud and rambunctious identity. Cowboy culture and rodeos are a constant reminder of Texas’s continuing history of ranching and frontier living, replete with bucket hats, big buckles, and cowboy boots. Pair that with Texas’s other great claims to fame, like its succulent barbecue and southwest cooking, plus a music scene so crackling that Austin has been dubbed Live Music Capital of the World, and you have the making of a larger-than-life experience that you’ll never forget.