Super Bowl LI Wow Factor open to public Saturday

One of the many events surrounding the Super Bowl is a nine-day fan festival called Super Bowl Live, and the festival features a jaw-dropping drop tower.

The 90-foot ride, used with a virtual reality headset, is free and opens on Saturday morning.

This drop tower is our city's Wow Factor—a unique fan experience the host city for the Super Bowl creates each year for the fan festival. The Wow Factor is different each year.

Houston’s Wow Factor is called Future Flight, and it simulates a journey to Mars.

“It was great! All the way to Mars! You get to see Mars, the NASA footage on Mars and then dropping right down onto the 50-yard line at NRG stadium for Super Bowl 51,” said Sallie Sargent, the president and CEO of the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee.

The ride uses NASA images to create the Martian landing you'll see on the virtual reality headset.

A number of astronauts got to check it out, and they wanted to remind people the ride isn't the only NASA sponsored experience.

“The WOW Factor, this ride is absolutely fantastic, but there’s also other things to see here from NASA. We've got rovers, robotics; we've got suits so I think there’s a lot of opportunities for people here to kind of get a sense of what we do here in Houston,” said Mike Hopkins, a current NASA astronaut.

The hope is to fuel a spark, a wondrous fascination in our young generation so that we have the best and brightest when we set off to explore Mars in 2030.

For those who don't really care for heights—there is a grounded version as well so you can still experience the virtual reality without going up 90 feet in the air.