Astronaut takes barbie doll to space to encourage girls into STEM

The International Space Station's first European female commander, Samantha Cristoforetti, hopes to inspire the next generation of female astronauts - with a little help from a special companion. ITV News' Sally Biddulph reports.

The doll, created to look like International Space Station (ISS) commander Samantha Cristoforetti, is currently with the astronaut on the ISS, as part of a joint effort with the European Space Agency (ESA) to inspire the next generation of space travellers.

Europe's first female commander of the ISS floated with her Barbie in zero gravity, to encourage girls to study STEM subjects and open the door to becoming future engineers, scientists and astronauts.

In footage released to mark World Space Week and ahead of International Day of the Girl, Cristoforetti also answered questions posed by girls from five European countries, who had each taken part in a role model programme with the charity Inspiring Girls International.

The doll created to look like International Space Station (ISS) commander Samantha Cristoforetti. Credit: AP

Barbie has looked to the stars before, with the first Astronaut Barbie appearing in 1965.

Mattel created a one-off doll resembling Cristoforetti in 2019, in honour of the astronaut. A version of the doll was released for sale in 2021, and that year Barbie was taken on a zero gravity parabolic flight.

Cristoforetti and her doll took off for the ISS in April and are due to return to Earth soon, as the Minerva mission draws to a close.

Once back, the Samantha Cristoforetti Barbie doll will be displayed at ESA headquarters.

ISS astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti answers a question from a girl and shows off her lookalike doll

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