NASA helps American Girl to create aspiring astronaut doll

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The firm American Girl is well-known for creating barbie dolls which inspire girls to dream and to become what they want when they grow up.

Excited girls in Space Camp uniforms were waiting on set when the 18-inch high Luciana Vega made her appearance, descending from above.

To help ensure the accuracy of Luciana's story and product line, American Girl says they worked with a four-member Advisory Board who were integral to Luciana's development, including Dr. Ellen Stofan, former NASA Chief Scientist; Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center; Dr. Megan McArthur Behnken, NASA Astronaut; and Maureen O'Brien, Manager of Strategic Alliances at NASA.

Luciana features a full astronaut suit, and she will have other STEM-related accessories for purchase as well. Luciana's experiences may be familiar for numerous Women@NASA, including astronauts like Megan, who have overcome obstacles to pursue their dreams.

"Luciana is our first character that's really immersed in STEM", said American Girl designer Rebecca Dekuiper.

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In addition to technical advice, NASA provided imagery and content for a new American Girl app and educational website.

'I was able to follow Lucy through all of her story and adventures, and provide feedback from an astronaut's perspective on the authenticity of her story and the activities that she participated in, ' explained Dr. Behnken said.

As NASA's human spaceflight focus shifts to deep space, including a return to the Moon, and ultimately, Mars, the collaboration with American Girl is timely.

'Luciana is a role model for today's girls - empowering them to defy stereotypes, embrace risks and failures, and chart their own course in life - whatever the goal, ' said American Girl president Katy Dickson. Luciana's story, told in a three-book series, follows the tween through a summer she spends at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Luciana Vega doll goes on sale online and at American Girl retail locations, including Alderwood Mall, on January 1. 2017's doll, Gabriela McBride, is an aspiring poet in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who uses the arts to overcome her stutter. In honor of Lea, American Girl teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to encourage artistic young girls to sell some of their work and donate the proceeds to the WWF.

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