Buzz Lightyear That Flew on Space Shuttle Heads to Smithsonian

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By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) — After thousands of trips around the Earth, Buzz Lightyear has landed at the Smithsonian.

The foot-high plastic toy, representing the character from Disney’s “Toy Story” franchise, flew to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle Discovery on May 31, 2008.

Once aboard, the toy was part of interactive games and special messages designed by NASA and Disney to encourage children to pursue careers in science.

The action figure was brought to NASA ahead of his journey to make him lighter and safer for the voyage.

Astronauts of ISS expeditions 18, 19 and 20 used the figure to perform educational demonstrations.

The toy returned to Earth 15 months later aboard Discovery, in September 2009.

The space traveling toy will go on display in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s “Moving Beyond Earth” gallery this summer.

The director of the museum, Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, said in a statement, “We are pleased to welcome Buzz Lightyear into the National Collection; very soon space shuttle Discovery, his ride to space, will join him.”