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NASA to put Buzz Lightyear on International Space Station

In conjunction with the opening of the "Toy Story" ride at Disney World, NASA is putting a toy figure of the space ranger on the Space Shuttle Discovery.

NASA and Disney are teaming up to put a figurine of 'Toy Story' space ranger Buzz Lightyear on the Space Shuttle Discovery when it launches on Saturday. The toy will be taken to the International Space Station, the destination for the shuttle.

Talk about cross-promotion.

One of the closest things to Disney World's Orlando, Fla., home, is NASA's Kennedy Space Center. This is relevant because on Friday, it was announced that among the objects expected to be blasted into the sky with the planned Saturday launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery is a figurine of Toy Story space ranger Buzz Lightyear.

Disney World, of course, is where the new Toy Story Mania ride has just opened.

The idea behind putting Buzz Lightyear aboard the Space Shuttle has to do with the "Toys in Space" initiative NASA and Disney are starting. This is an educational program designed to inspire children's interest in space and celestial discovery.

This is all also relevant to me because on June 10, I'll be hitting the highways for Road Trip 2008. I'll start in Orlando, and before I visit many of the South's most interesting destinations, I'll be stopping by both Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center.

At the theme park, I expect to visit and do a story on the Toy Story ride, and at the NASA facility I hope to be able to see the Space Shuttle land.

If the latter happens, however, I won't be seeing Buzz Lightyear, as the toy will have stayed behind on the space station.

Stay tuned to the Road Trip, and be sure to keep up, both now and during the trip, with what I'm doing on Twitter.