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Top 20 Questions

How do I view a rocket launch?
Information about launch viewing can be found on the Kennedy Space Center web site:


How do I request a speaker?
Astronaut speakers may be requested through the Astronaut Appearances Office at 281-244-8866. General NASA speakers (scientists, engineers, etc.) may be requested through Community Affairs at 281-483-4754.


How can I borrow an exhibit from NASA for my school or event?
There are JSC exhibits that are available on loan to educational facilities and other non-profit functions by calling the Exhibits Manager at 281-483-8622.


How can I obtain photography associated with the space program?
Still photography may be downloaded from the WWW or be purchased from NASA's Media Resource Center at 281-483-4231.


I want to visit Johnson Space Center. How do I get a tour?
Space Center Houston is JSC's official visitor center. It is located adjacent to JSC and is managed in partnership with non-profit private sector organizations. The main contact phone number is 281-244-2100. For information concerning day camps for children and school group visits call 281-244-2145.


I am a teacher. How do I get material for my classroom?
NASA has several Educator Resource Centers (ERCs) throughout the United States to serve educators. The Johnson Space Center ERC, located at Space Center Houston, serves educators in an eight-state region (Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota). The phone number for this ERC is 281-244-2129. To determine the appropriate ERC for other states, contact the JSC Resource Center at the same number.


I have a question about a planetary probe. Whom do I contact?
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California is the center responsible for planetary probes and maintains solar system information. The phone number is 818-354-5011.


How do I get information on seeing a launch or stay updated on launch activities?
Information about launch viewing and launch updates can be found on the Kennedy Space Center web site:


How do I get satellite information?
Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland is the NASA center responsible for satellite programs. It has information on satellite images, the Hubble Space Telescope, space tracking and space debris. The phone number is 301-286-5566.


How does NASA receive and distribute my tax dollars?
Less than 1 percent of the federal budget goes to NASA. The budget for NASA is administered at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.


Where can I find more technical information on NASA's research?
Requests for NASA technical publications and papers should be directed to NASA's Center for Aerospace Information (CASI) at 301-621-0390.


Where do I get NASA souvenirs such as pens, caps, patches and stickers?
NASA souvenirs may be purchased from the Space Trader Gift Shop at 1-800-746-7724.


Where can I get an individual picture of a particular astronaut?
Online portraits of individual astronauts are available at the following Web site:


I want to work at NASA. What college should I attend?
NASA does not recommend specific institutions or courses of instruction. Please contact accredited universities of your choice to determine if instruction is offered in the aerospace field. The qualifications for becoming an astronaut are covered in the Astronaut Selection Web site.


How do I apply to work at Johnson Space Center?
Information on how to apply for NASA jobs can be found at


How do you know what time it is in space?
All the clocks on the shuttle are set to Mission Elapsed Time (MET). The MET clock does not start running until we launch into space, and when it does start running, it starts right at midnight. So, 1 hour after we lift off, it is 1:00 a.m. Astronauts have a 16-hour day and then a sleep period. Mission Control uses both MET for the shuttle and Central time for public event times, so that everyone knows when particular events will occur on a mission.


How do you take a bath, brush your teeth, and go to the bathroom in space?
There is no bath or shower on the shuttle, so astronauts just wash off with wet washcloths, using soaps that you don't have to rinse off. When they brush their teeth, they can either swallow the toothpaste or spit it into a washcloth. Designing a toilet for zero-gravity is tougher. The astronauts use air flow to make the urine or feces go where they want, since gravity will not do it for them.


What does a launch feel like?
It is a very exciting, noisy, shaking ride for the first two minutes. Then the solid rocket boosters drop off and it gets a lot smoother, but there still is a strong push on the back of the astronauts' seats from all the power in the three main engines. Those three main engines burn fuel at an incredible rate -- approximately 1,000 gallons every second. The shuttle goes from zero miles per hour (mph) on the launch pad to over 17,000 mph in just over eight minutes. That means we go 2,000 mph faster every minute (information from space shuttle astronauts Kathy Sullivan and Pierre Thuot).


Can I see the shuttle or the station from the ground?
Yes, depending on your location, the orbit of the shuttle or station, and lighting conditions. Detailed lists of shuttle and station sighting opportunities are posted during each mission on the Human Space Flight Web.


I have a computer software program for tracking the shuttle, but it asks me for orbital elements or Keplarian elements. Where can I find these?
The most up-to-date orbital elements for the shuttle (during missions) and the station are available on the Human Space Flight Web.