Mars mission boosts space centre numbers

Mars mission boosts space centre numbers

NASA's plans to reach and explore Mars by the 2030s have people everywhere excited, but nowhere more so than at NASA's home base in Houston, Texas.

The news on Mars has resulted in record tourist numbers to the popular Johnson Space Center.

The space centre has one of the largest collections of space artefacts in the world. There are rockets and spacecraft from the start of the space race.

Tourists have flocked in record numbers in August and September.

"Space is popular right now," says the centre's Meridyth Moore. "It is all about going to Mars right now, so NASA is working hard to go to Mars in the 2030s."

Seventeen million have visited the space centre. Every 100,000 of those are teachers and students from around the globe.

Not since David Hilmers flew four space shuttle missions has NASA enjoyed so much interest.

"It's the first time that maybe we have this dream of landing and working and living on another planet, and seems like it is closer to reality than ever before," says Mr Hilmers.

While we wait for a manned mission to Mars, it's the shuttle that still remains the star attraction.

The newest public attraction will be the shuttle and the jumbo jet. It will be open to the public in January.

Hamish Clark travelled to Houston courtesy of Air New Zealand.

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