Visiting the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor Center
An aerial view of the Goddard Space Flight Center visitor complex. NASA Goddard/Bill Hrybyk


The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is a major nerve center for the space agency. It's one of ten field centers across the country. Its scientists and technical personnel are involved in all aspects of major missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, ​a number of missions to study the Sun, and many others. Goddard Space Flight Center contributes to the knowledge of Earth and the universe through scientific discovery.

Want to Visit Goddard?

Goddard has a visitor center that offers many unique programs, special events and presentations highlighting the institution's contributions to America's space program. You can ​visit and hear lectures, see exciting model rocket launches, and participate in one of their fun-filled children's programs. The Center also has a number of exhibits revealing the details and accomplishments of its many missions. Here are a few examples of the exhibitions available. 

Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe Exhibit

The exhibit contains images and data taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of planets, galaxies, black holes, and much more. The exhibit is comprised of spectacular backlit color images and contains numerous interactive displays. These include a video game to determine the distance to galaxies, an infrared camera that takes pictures of your hand to demonstrate the different wavelengths of light, and an electronic galaxy counter to guess at the number of galaxies in the universe.

The Solarium

This exhibition presents a new way of looking at the Sun, made possible by advances in imaging technology and sophisticated spacecraft engineering. Its goal is to entertain while generating a renewed interest in the Sun.

They are based, in all instances, on images captured by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory and Transition Region and Coronal Explorer missions. Both are managed at Goddard Space Flight Center. Also available is information about the STEREO mission, which is giving astronomers a 3D look at the Sun. The Living with a Star program that unites all studies of the Sun was begun at Goddard. 

The James Webb Space Telescope

This upcoming mission is being built at Goddard and will be managed from the center. Set for launch around 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope is infrared-sensitive and designed to look at the first galaxies in the early universe, search out planetary systems around other stars, and study dim, distant objects in our own solar system. It will orbit the Sun well away from Earth, which will help keep its detectors cool. 

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Studying the Moon is a full-time job for an entire team at Goddard, plus scientists around the world. They use data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is investigating possible landing and mining sites on our planet's largest satellite. The data from this long-term mission to the Moon will be of immense value to the next generation of explorers who will set foot on its surface and build stations there.

Other exhibits focus on space operations, the Goddard rocket garden, astrobiology, and the role that ozone plays in Earth's atmosphere. 

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center History:

Since its inception in 1959, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has been at the forefront of space and Earth science. The center was named after Dr. Robert H. Goddard, who is considered the father of American rocketry. Goddard's fundamental mission is to expand our knowledge of the Earth and its environment, the solar system and the universe through observations from space. Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the largest collection of scientists and engineers dedicated to exploring Earth from space that can be found anywhere in the world.

The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is located in Greenbelt, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DCIts visitor center hours are from 9am - 4pm, Monday through Friday. In addition, there are special events planned throughout the year, many of which are open to the public. The center offers school and group tours with advance notice.