The World Welcomes Buzz Lightyear Home from his Mission in Space

Buzz Lightyear’s record-setting space station mission.

Buzz Lightyear in space
Buzz Lightyear, looking very confident before blastoff.

He may be just a toy, but Buzz Lightyear has just recently returned from quite a trip. In May, 2008 Buzz was launched into orbit on board Discovery for a 6 month scheduled mission aboard the International Space Station as part of an educational program teaching children about space. But his mission was so successful, that NASA and Disney extended it to more than a year. That means that Buzz holds the record for his stay in space, surpassing the longest duration mission held by Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov set in 1995.

Buzz Lightyear in space
Buzz’s pal Woody sees him off on his journey.

Buzz, a 12-inch tall action figure, finally travelled into space through a partnership between NASA and Disney Parks to encourage students to pursue science, technology, and math. To further encourage students, NASA and Disney have created an online program called the Space Ranger Education Series.

Buzz returned to earth on board the Space Shuttle on September 12, 2009. Buzz spent 468 days in space, beating the record by 30 days. His good pal Woody was on-hand to wave goodbye when he lifted off in 2008, but was probably not there when he landed since the Shuttle had to land in California. After several "debriefing sessions" Disney is planning on a ticker-tape parade for Buzz in honor of his space duration achievement on October 2, at Walt Disney World along with his space station crew mates and Apollo 11 Astronaut, Buzz Aldrin (who maintains that he is the real Buzz)

Buzz Lightyear in space
Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger, on duty.

While on-board the station, Buzz made some video recordings designed to teach kids the basics of working and living in the weightless environment of space. In one video, an astronaut sleeps with Buzz, letting him go as he drifts off, which lets Buzz also drift off across the station. He will also contribute a journal about his adventures.

Buzz also made some great videos before he left for his adventure. Scroll down to see one of them.

Buzz Lightyear in space
Buzz’s triumphant return to California.

Buzz wasn’t the only toy in space for this mission. STS-128 pilot Kevin Ford, brought a model of the space shuttle along for his elementary school as well as a model car for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Astronauts are allowed to bring a small amount of personal items along on their trips into space. They are usually out of reach for the duration of the flight.

Will Buzz’s space adventure be reflected in the upcoming Toy Story III? Probably not. Will Toy Story III be delayed due to Buzz’s extended space mission? Hopefully not. But a re-issued Buzz action figure will be on-sale at Disney resorts to commemorate his mission and Buzz, the Astronaut, will be on display at Disney in the future.

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