Samantha Cristoforetti, the first European woman Commander of the International Space Station, went into space with her Barbie doll to inspire little girls and young women to pursue careers in science (STEM).
When the Italian astronaut left for the International Space Station in April with her teammates from around the world, she packed up her Barbie “Samantha” and lifted off from Earth on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. Despite the challenging mission made of scientific experiments and maintenance that saw her become the first ESA female astronaut to perform a “spacewalk” – a walk in space – as well as the first European woman Commander of the International Space Station – Samantha carved out time to answer questions from some little girls, accompanied by her Barbie doll.
Josef Aschbacher, Director General of ESA, pointed out that: “ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has a wonderful mission to create benefits for science, engineering and education and this helps us in the development of our future missions across the Solar System. As with all of our ESA astronauts, I am very proud of her accomplishments and when they highlight that both women and men play an equal role in space exploration, then it means we have one more positive aspect of ESA’s Minerva mission.”
Through Inspiring Girls, an international charity founded by Miriam Gonzàlez Duràntez to connect girls with different female role models and already a partner in the Barbie Dream Gap Project, five little girls from all over Europe were chosen to submit their questions to the astronaut known polyglot.
The chosen questions were recorded by little girls who are part of the space-themed workshops conducted by Barbie and Inspiring Girls in the UK, France, Spain, Switzerland and Italy, Samantha’s home country.
Berenice Allegra, 8 years old from Milan, asked Samantha what are the most important school subjects in order to become an astronaut, what is the most amazing experiment she performed aboard the ISS, whether it is possible to eat pizza on board, what she wanted to do when she was a child, as well as her dream of becoming an astronaut, and what her dream is today.
Miriam González Durántez said, “Through Inspiring Girls International, we connect girls with positive role models, to show them all the opportunities they have in life and to motivate them to reach their full potential. We are proud and excited to give our girls and young women the fantastic opportunity to ask questions directly to Samantha Cristoforetti about her role on the International Space Station. This inspiring collaboration will help little girls and young women to discover new opportunities, consider a career in STEM subjects, and raise their aspirations.”
Barbie has embarked on a long-term collaboration with ESA to inspire little girls and young women from all parts of the world to see the field of science (STEM) subjects as a viable option for their careers. The brand first honored Samantha Cristoforetti in March 2019 with a one-of-a-kind doll with her likeness, and later made a version of the doll to go on sale from October 2021; this allowed fans to purchase their real Samantha Cristoforetti doll and to support the charity Women in Aerospace Europe, to which a went part of the proceeds from the sale of the dolls.
Recently, Samantha in Italy also became the protagonist of one of the episodes of the first podcast of Barbie, produced in collaboration with Podcastory.
It will be Barbie herself, in the company of her friend Brooklyn and her little sister Chelsea, who will tell young and old the stories of role models, extraordinary women who inspire little girls to imagine that they can be-anything they desire!
Lisa McKnight, EVP and Global Head of Barbie, said, “Barbie’s purpose to remind little girls and young women that they can be anything they desire drives everything we do, including our dedication to helping close the Dream Gap. Through our partnership with role model Samantha Cristoforetti, ESA and Inspiring Girls, we have been able to speak directly to girls and young women and to spark their interest in considering STEM careers for their future, all in the hope of enable them to ‘play’ at the same level everywhere.”
Airman, engineer and astronaut Samantha will shortly begin her descent to Earth at the conclusion of the Minerva mission, and upon her return the Barbie Samantha Cristoforetti that accompanied her on her mission will be put on display at ESA headquarters.
In addition, just today a special episode of Barbie Vlogger, to talk more and more about STEM careers to young fans around the world, this time
through the voice of Barbie.