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Smokey the Bear to visit space station

April 25, 2012 at 5:17 PM

MOSCOW, April 25 (UPI) -- A U.S. astronaut in Russia preparing to travel to the International Space Station says he's picked Smokey the Bear as the mascot for his crew.

NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba, in Moscow preparing for a May 15 launch, said he planned to take a toy Smokey to the ISS to hang inside the orbiting lab as a weightlessness indicator, RIA Novosti reported.

Acaba said he hopes having Smokey, the mascot of the United States Forest Service, as a passenger on the ISS would help raise public awareness of the dangers posed by forest fires.

Smokey will serve as crew mascot for Acaba and his Russian crewmates Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin when they blast off from the Baikonur launching site in Kazakhstan.

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