Meet Magellan T. Bear, the first official teddy bear to travel into space. Flying as an “Educational Specialist” aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-63 mission in February 1995, Magellan T. Bear saw the world in ways few humans ever will.
Magellan T. Bear’s adventure began in the early 1990s, when faculty at Elk Creek Elementary School in the small, rural town of Pine, Colorado launched an ambitious initiative to send the first teddy bear into space. Their goal was to ignite students’ interest in geography, science, and social studies. It was a massive undertaking, but the results were awe-inspiring.
To put their plan in motion, the faculty and students partnered with NASA and Spacehab to send Magellan T. Bear through space camp. Then they secured his place on the shuttle and got him certified for space travel. They also partnered with the North American Bear Company to have the bear built with blue plush fur and a proper uniform (which would amass numerous commemorative pins).
The bear’s space mission was a success and earned him the title of the first official teddy bear to travel into space. But neither the bear nor Elk Creek Elementary School were content to stop there. Through more hard work, they arranged for Magellan T. Bear to embark on exciting new adventures, ranging from flying around the world, to visiting the South Pole, and joining the United Airlines crew on their first Boeing 777 flight.
Representing Elk Creek Elementary School in May 1998, principal Jerry Williams and librarian Penny Wiedeke presented Magellan T. Bear to the National Air and Space Museum. To this day, the bear remains in the museum’s collection, evidence that elementary students and school faculty, working together, can accomplish amazing things.