American Girl paired up with NASA to create their Girl of the Year for 2018, and she’s shooting for the stars.
Luciana Vega is an 11-year-old girl with big dreams of exploring the final frontier as an astronaut.
“Luciana is our first character that’s really immersed in STEM,” doll designer Rebecca Dekuiper said in an interview with ABC News. “We’ve had STEM products before, but we really wanted to do a whole character to show girls that STEM is cool.”
American Girl reportedly unveiled the doll on January 1st on Good Morning America, as well as across social media.
“3…2…1…Meet Luciana Vega! Our newest character is on a mission to be the first astronaut on Mars, leading the way for girls to explore their own curiosity about space and science—and helping their confidence soar,” American Girl wrote on their Twitter post announcing the doll.
American Girl also posted a video explaining Luciana’s backstory, which shows how a trip to Space Camp inspired her to achieve her dreams of being the first person to land on Mars.
The doll’s designers said they worked closely with NASA and the Johnson Space Center in Houston to get the details right in Luciana’s story, traveling to the Bayou City to get a firsthand look at what it’s like to go to Space Camp.
Company officials said four experts worked with designers to help create the doll.
The team included Ellen Stofan, former chief scientist for NASA; Deborah Barnhart, who is the CEO and executive director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center; Megan McArthur Behnken, a NASA astronaut; and Maureen O’Brien, manager of strategic alliances at NASA.
“It is so important to find exciting new ways to inspire our next generation of space explorers,” McArthur provided in a NASA press release. “I always want to encourage girls and boys to pursue their dreams, no matter how big, and I think it helps to show how those dreams can become reality for any kid.”
Fans of the doll can read her story in a 3-part series written by Erin Teagan, which is published by Scholastic.
Along with Luciana, American Girl will launch a new line of outfits inspired by STEM fields.