For Reservations
Choose a location & mission option

Transforming Students into Space Explorers

Expanding a classroom to distant planets; it turns learning into inspiration and students into explorers.
A visit to the Expedition Center is a learning experience that engages students, transforming them into scientists, engineers or researchers on a simulated space expedition. It expands a classroom to distant planets; it turns learning into inspiration and students into explorers.

At the Expedition Center, we focus on skills far beyond space science – we use the excitement of space travel as a foundation for interdisciplinary tasks and life skills that can turn a moment of success into a lifetime of difference.

Mission Options

Select the Expedition Center mission at either
HMNS Hermann Park or the George Observatory.
Options vary based on age and group size.
Grades 1-3
Junior Expedition

Special Characteristics
Participants act only as astronauts, one adult required per 2 children to help with reading. Mars landing.
Number of Participants
Maximum of 22 students, 1 adult per 2 astronauts required; Ages 6-8
Length
1.5 hours
Fee
$255

Grades 4-8
Mini Moon Expedition

Special Characteristics
Participants act only as astronauts. Moon landing.
Number of Participants
Maximum of 22 astronauts; Ages 9-13
Length
1 hour
Fee
$230

Grades 4-8
Mini Mars Expedition

Special Characteristics
Participants act only as astronauts. Mars landing.
Number of Participants
Maximum of 22 astronauts: Ages 9-13
Length
1 hour
Fee
$230

Grades 4-8
Full Expedition

Special Characteristics
Participants act as astronauts and Mission Control specialists, landing on the Moon and on Mars.
Number of Participants
Maximum of 44 astronauts; Ages 9-13
Length
2 hours
Fee
$350

Grades 7-12
Advanced Mini Expedition

Special Characteristics
Harder tasks. Participants act only as astronauts. Mars landing.
Number of Participants
12-22 students
Length
1 hour
Fee
$230

Grades 8-12
Advanced Full Expedition

Special Characteristics
Harder tasks. Participants act as astronauts and Mission Control specialists. Landings on Moon and Mars.
Number of Participants
24-44 students
Length
2 hour
Fee
$350

Adults Only
Corporate Team Building Mini Mars Expedition

Special Characteristics
Harder tasks. Adult participants act only as astronauts. Mars landing.
Number of Participants
Maximum of 22 astronauts
Length
1.5 hours
Fee
$300

Adults Only
Corporate Team Building Full Expedition

Special Characteristics
Harder tasks. Participants act as astronauts and Mission Control specialists. Landings on Moon and Mars.
Number of Participants
Maximum of 44 astronauts
Length
2.5 hours
Fee
$500

Additional Resources

Expedition Center Program Reservations

Book your journey and begin your adventure!

Select between the Expedition Center at HMNS or at the George Observatory
The Expedition Center Program at the Museum includes admission to the Permanent Exhibit Halls and all the other venues are available at discounted school rates. HMNS is located near Hermann Park, central to everyone in the Houston area.

The Expedition Center at the George Observatory is located in Brazos Bend State Park, rated one of the top 10 state parks in the nation. Other activities can be added to a mission at the Observatory, such as astronomy classes and a visit to the large telescope. A day in Brazos Bend Park can be very educational in a relaxing atmosphere.

Select a mission option that fits your group
Options are available at both centers. Full, Mini, Jr., Advanced Mini, Advanced Full have been developed to fit different age groups. At the George Observatory, astronomy classes can be added on to your mission to make Mega Expeditions.

Select 3 days that best suits your field trip schedule
Some months are busier than others, therefore the amount of time you should register in advance will vary. For fall field trips, book as soon as school starts.
Due to state testing and spring break, March and early April are ideal for home school groups and private schools to book and only a few weeks advanced registration is required. Late April and May are the busiest time of the year so registration should be made several months in advance. Generally there is higher demand for Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Submit the Expedition Center Program Expedition Form
1. Fill out the Field Trip Booking form
2. A Reservations Coordinator will be in contact to finalize your booking.

Teacher Resources

More than just a one-day field trip. The expedition starts in your classroom and lasts long after the experience.

We recommend incorporating the expedition preparation materials into your daily curriculum taking advantage of this unique experience’s potential. Some activities go beyond science, such as team applications and designing an expedition patch.
At a minimum, when students arrive, they should know: team they are on and their duties . A free curriculum is offered to prepare everyone for an exciting expedition to outer space in the Expedition Center!

Expedition Preparation Manuals:
After booking an expedition, you’ll receive expedition preparation materials, containing a teacher packet, activity book, and confirmation letter.
You can download the teacher packet here:

If you do not receive preparation materials with a confirmation letter in the mail within 2 weeks of registration, contact the number below .

Contact – 713-639-4727

Expedition Center History

Creating a motivation for learning science

After the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger accident, the families of the astronauts wanted to continue the educational aspect of the Challenger mission. During a meeting of top educators from around the country, the idea of a space simulation was born.

The Nation’s first Expedition Center opened August 25, 1988 as the Challenger Learning Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It was the first of an international network of over 45 Challenger Learning Centers. HMNS opened a second Expedition Center at the George Observatory in Brazos Bend State Park in 1992. The network serves to keep the spirit of the crew alive, not as a memorial carved out of stone, but as a memorial etched in the lives of the students from around the world who discover the thrill of learning every day.

The idea for the first mission, Rendezvous with Haley’s Comet, is based on the training the Challenger Shuttle astronauts received at the Houston Museum of Natural Science just one month before the Challenger accident. The Museum staff had been training the astronauts to find Haley’s Comet in the Burke Baker Planetarium at HMNS and felt that a voyage to study the comet was an appropriate way to “continue the mission.” HMNS premiered the Haley’s Comet mission and has since helped to develop the missions Return the Moon, Voyage to Mars, and Operation: LEAPFROG, a hybrid mission.

In 2002, the Expedition Center at HMNS was completely remodeled and renovated. Mission Control was given a new streamlined, high tech look while the flight simulator kept its classic style, unique among the network of 45 Challenger Learning Centers. The most up-to-date technology was incorporated throughout, including flat screen plasma monitors, video projection, and the latest in computer technology.

Today, the Expedition Center offers missions to groups of all kinds including school field trips, scout groups, and birthday parties. This unique experience uses space exploration to fuel the imagination and get participants excited about doing science in the classroom and as a career. The Expedition Center is a tool for teachers to help them work on teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, and processing information with their students. The program creates a motivation for learning science after the field trip and fosters a sense of accomplishment in students.