Astronauts Hoffman and Seddon with a Slinky by NASASmithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
Astronauts from around the world travel to conduct scientific experiments a unique laboratory above this planet--the International Space Station. Sometimes, though, they make some time for play. (Or even science disguised as such!)
Since the early days of the Space Shuttle Program, astronauts have brought some surprising items into orbit. Some of these objects help to demonstrate complex scientific principles, like this Slinky, used by astronauts Jeffrey Hoffman and Rhea Seddon to demonstrate weightlessness aboard Discovery in 1985.
The Slinky was part of a collection of toys brought into space by the Discovery crew on mission STS-51D. The toys, which also included a Yo-Yo, paddle ball, and toy car, were used as part of a physics demonstration.
Buzz Lightyear did not quite make it to infinity and beyond, but this “Toy Story” figurine did make it to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2008. The toy flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery twice (up on STS-124 and down on STS-128) and spent 15 months aboard the ISS. When Buzz returned to Earth, he became part of the Museum’s collection.
Magellan T. Bear
In 1995, Magellan T. Bear flew as the “education specialist” aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-63 mission. Students and faculty of Elk Creek Elementary School in Pine, Colorado, worked with NASA to have the teddy bear certified for spaceflight.
Magellan, the first official teddy bear in space, was presented to the National Air and Space Museum in May of 1998. Bear is a snappy dresser with several ensembles and accessories filling out his "closet" and the Museum's collection (s.si.edu/MagellanTBear).
On May 15, 2012, this stuffed Smokey Bear traveled aboard a Soyuz spacecraft with NASA astronaut Joe Acaba to the International Space Station.
Smokey Bear Aboard the International Space Station by NASASmithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
While in space, Smokey, NASA, and the U.S. Forest Service celebrated the icon’s 68th birthday. The toy spent 123 days aboard the station before returning with Acaba in September 2012.
CD Player, ShuttleSmithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
Often, astronauts will bring items into orbit to enjoy on their downtime, or as reminders of home. For some, that’s music. (Astronaut Ellen Ochoa even practiced her flute in space!) Astronauts may bring their own music on a mission, and can choose songs to “wake up” to while on the ISS. This CD player was flown on Shuttle missions STS-95 and STS-88, both in 1998.
Book, 2001 A Space Odyssey, STS-98Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
When astronaut Tom Jones was 13 years old, he read "2001: A Space Odyssey" after seeing the film in theaters. Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi movie inspired Jones to pursue a career in space exploration.
When Jones traveled to the ISS on Discovery's STS-98 mission, the first human space launch of the millennium, he brought along his copy of “2001.” Author Arthur C. Clarke sent Jones a signed bookplate after he returned to Earth.