Collection Item Summary:
This Smokey Bear plush toy was taken to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft by Joe Acaba, a NASA astronaut and member of Expeditions 31 and 32. It belonged to Jeffrey Miller, a United States Forest Service professional, and Acaba’s friend since they served together in the Dominican Republic as volunteers in the United States Peace Corps beginning in 1994.
Aboard the Soyuz, this Smokey Bear toy acted as both a flight mascot and light-hearted zero-gravity indicator, keeping with a Russian tradition of having one space traveler bring a personal talisman aboard the Soyuz (when the object floated, they were in space). The toy spent 123 days aboard the station before returning with Acaba in September 2012.
Smokey Bear is the national symbol of wildfire prevention, and the toy's presence on board the ISS highlighted a partnership between NASA and the United States Forest Service to promote environmental education and outreach.
Jeff Miller gave the Smokey Bear plush toy to the National Air and Space Museum in June 2013.