Buzz Lightyear is now part of the International Space Station crew, after astronauts from mission STS-124 boarded the orbital outpost yesterday at 3:36PM EDT—bringing in the 12-inch to guard us against Emperor Zurg, who has been secretly building a weapon with the destructive capacity to annihilate an entire planet. Or maybe just teach kids about math and science. I can go either way, death rays or deathly equations.
Seven astronauts who will fly into orbit aboard space shuttle Discovery will have comfortable seats for the climb into space. An eighth space ranger won't have a seat at all. In fact, he will be packed tight inside a box and won't even get to enjoy the ride up.
But it's nothing veteran spaceman Buzz Lightyear can't overcome.
The good news is that he'll have some sports shows to listen to, along with a host of jerseys that have been to the Champs Elysees in Paris for the Tour de France and to the Super Bowl.
More accustomed to soaring among the galaxies on fold-out wings and a backpack rocket, Lightyear will take to space on Discovery's STS-124 mission stowed inside a locker in Discovery's crew compartment. The 12-inch-tall action figure is flying as part of a partnership between NASA and Disney Parks to encourage students to pursue studies in science, technology and mathematics, one of NASA's main educational goals.
Disney's Youth Educational Series and NASA have developed an online program known as the Space Ranger Education Series. It includes fun educational games for students, as well as materials for educators to download and integrate into their classroom curriculum.
"NASA is excited to help students understand the science and engineering currently underway on the International Space Station," said Joyce Winterton, NASA assistant administrator for Education. "The educational games and resources from this partnership will allow students to explore the science and math behind space exploration with a beloved character."