Lehman Township, Pike County - The Russian Soyuz rocket headed to the International Space Station carrying two Russian Cosmonauts, one American Astronaut, and one Astro Smurf. "I think it's really cool, honestly," reacted Shainah Milfort.
Milfort is a student at Lehman Intermediate School. She was part of the class involved in the space project. The class sent the tiny blue toy on a 53-million-mile mission. It circled the earth 2,000 times. "That's pretty impressive for a smurf," smiled teacher Joe Fluhr.
Fluhr owned the space Smurf since he was a boy. He recalled, "I used to take this little Smurf and put him in a toy space ship and I would put him in the top of a tall pine tree and leave him up there for two weeks so he would be in space in my imagination."
As Fluhr grew, so did his passion for space. He eventually became a Space Science teacher. His Smurf helped him teach about rockets. He explained, "I would strap him in with duct tape in the payload section."
The Astro Smurf flew many training missions at the school. Then one day got an invite to the big show. Fluhr had some connections who invited him to send something to the International Space Station. He sent his Smurf and pictures of his students. Eighth grader Frankie Vazquez smiled, "I thought it was extraordinary. It was like amazing I'm proud of my teacher that he was capable of that."
The photos and Smurf replica are now on display at Lehman Intermediate School. The original Space Smurf is kept safe Fluhr's classroom. Fluhr said, "This gives these kids a great opportunity to see and hold objects that have been to space, where normally they can't because the items are behind glass."
It's a boyhood dream, turned reality. Fluhr smiled, "To actually fulfill a childhood dream more than thirty years later, how many people can actually do that?"