Buckeye Bear to go into space on Discovery mission

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"Avon's own astronaut

AVON -- Buckeye Bear has had many great adventures over the past four years, but his next trip will really be out-of-this-world.

The stuffed mascot of teacher Marcia Frank's class at Avon East Elementary School will be aboard space shuttle Discovery when it launches from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The launch is slated for late October or early November.

There will be a crew of nine passengers, including Buckeye, on the 10-day mission.

Buckeye's spot on the shuttle was made possible by NASA rocket scientist Bryan Palaszewski, retired senator and astronaut John Glenn; U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Lorain; state Rep. John Bender, D-Elyria; Frank and seven of her former students.

The students, who have grown up with Buckeye since 1995, now are sixth-graders at Avon Middle School.


April Schatschneider, 12, a student of Marcia Frank's 5th grade class at Avon East Elementary School reflects on the paper rockets the class made as part of a space science project.

The furry friend they left behind at the elementary school has traveled with various branches of the U.S. military to Germany, Bosnia, Hungary, Ireland and Scotland. His most recent journey was to Guam with the Navy Seals last year.

"I didn't think Buckeye Bear would make it this far,'' said Charles Lorence, a sixth-grader at Avon Middle School. "We had a little bit of hope that he would get on the shuttle.

"I think our hard work and all the letters we wrote to politicians and NASA workers helped.''

Charles' classmate, April Schatschneider, agreed. "I think this is pretty neat,'' she said. "All of my friends I have known since the third grade always April Schatschneider, ask me what Buckeye Bear is going 12, a student of Marcia to do next. I think being at NASA's Frank's 5th grade class renaming ceremonies for John Glenn at Avon East Elementary helped get Buckeye on the School reflects on the shuttle.''

Last year, Frank and her students extensively studied rocketry under the guidance of Palaszewski to better understand the subject just in case Buckeye got to ride on the space shuttle.


Buckeye Bear waves goodbye as he looks forward to the flight. The bear is wearing a custom-made space suit patterned after the suit John Glenn wore on his space mission this past year.

After NASA officials approved the request for Buckeye to travel on the shuttle, his next step was to train by being a passenger on two microgravity plane missions.

The test took place in June at NASA's John Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Brook Park. Buckeye passed with flying colors, floating weightlessly in the plane.

"Buckeye is a tough bear,'' Palaszewski said. "He did not get sick on the flight.''

Buckeye now sports an orange NASA spacesuit made by Avon resident Ann Linden. The orange suit mirrors the one Glenn wore on the 1998 NASA space shuttle when he became the oldest astronaut at age 77.

Buckeye actually has a few more stops to make before leaving the planet.

On Monday, Frank will ship him to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he will stay until he travels with NASA officials to Florida.

An excited Frank plans to be in Florida when Buckeye blasts off with the shuttle.

"This project with Buckeye Bear has been a lesson to follow your dreams because they can come true,'' Frank said."

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