Barbie is going where (almost) no doll has gone before.
As the world closes in on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing — the Apollo 11 blasted off July 16, 1969, landed on the moon July 20 and Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the surface July 21 — Mattel Inc. is unveiling a commemorative Barbie doll to celebrate the achievements of real-life Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, the European Space Agency's only active female astronaut.
The doll will not be made available to buy, yet — though the toy brand has hinted at ongoing collaboration. The Cristoforetti Barbie is, however, the latest installment of the Barbie Dream Gap Project, an on-going initiative started in 2018 that donates $1 from every unit sold to a fund that is "dedicated to supporting like-minded organizations who are leveling the playing field for girls, while raising awareness to limiting factors that prevent girls from reaching their full potential," according to Barbie's website.
Mattel, based in El Segundo, Calif., sells an estimated 10.5 million Barbie dolls each year, made of PVC.
To launch the collaboration, Cristoforetti will also host a series of videos in which she gives guided tours to girls around the ESA European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany.
"We are proud to launch this collaboration with the ESA with a clear goal: To inspire girls to become the next generation of astronauts, engineers and space scientists," Isabel Ferrer, Barbie's European director of marketing, said in a statement. Ferrer echoed the idea that Cristoforetti's doll may act as a stepping stone to increasing exposure of positive female role models for girls.
Following a 199-day mission to the International Space Station in 2014, Cristoforetti became the record-holder for the longest single space mission completed by a woman — which she held until 2017 — and also made headlines during her trip for becoming the first astronaut to brew an espresso in space. Cristoforetti says she hopes her new collaboration with Barbie "will help young girls and boys to dream about their future without limits."