In 2008, one special Buzz Lightyear action figure was actually able to travel “to infinity and beyond” aboard the space shuttle Discovery. For a record-setting 15 months, Buzz Lightyear orbited the Earth in the International Space Station as a teaching tool to get children excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Now, visitors from all over the world will be able to see this special Buzz Lightyear toy in person, as the figure was donated to the Smithsonian last week.
John Lasseter was on hand last Thursday to officially donate the action figure to the Smithsonian, where it will be on display at the National Air and Space Museum beginning this summer. A long-time admirer of astronauts and the space program, Lasseter said that seeing Buzz fly in space brought him “full circle.”
“I started crying when Discovery connected to the International Space Station,” [Lasseter] admitted at the presentation. “There’s a tube that the astronauts go through to get into the space station. They didn’t carry Buzz. They opened his wings, they put his arms out, and Buzz Lightyear flew, in space, himself, up that tube into the International Space Station.”
“Today is without question one of the greatest days of my life. I am so proud to have Buzz Lightyear be inducted into this, one of the greatest museums in the world.”
During its space mission, the 12-inch action figure was used for demonstrations on gravity, weightlessness, and space life, which were then sent back to Earth to educate children. In its place at the museum, the action figure, which began its life as a Disney executive’s son’s actual toy, will once again be able to educate thousands of visitors for years to come.
Buzz Lightyear will be on display in the museum’s “Moving Beyond Earth” gallery, which is devoted to the International Space Station and the shuttle program. Buzz will be a part of a mockup of a space shuttle’s crew compartment, where he will have his own reserved locker that guests can open up to discover the toy. To learn more about the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, you can visit the museum’s official website here.
Photos copyright Smithsonian and NASA