Female commander of International Space Station inspires young girls from orbit
The first European woman to command the International Space Station (ISS) has answered young girls’ questions accompanied by her lookalike Barbie doll, to mark World Space Week (October 4-10).
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took time to explain experiments conducted aboard the ISS and answer queries about her life as a spacewoman, as part of a project to inspire girls to study for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers.
Asked why she became an astronaut, Cristoforetti cited her twin passions of piloting planes and studying science. “Growing up I was fascinated by the night sky, and the idea of flying to space, and the sense of adventure and exploration. And then I became interested in science and technology, and then I really loved flying, I became a pilot. And being an astronaut kind of brings all those passions and interests of me together,” she said.
The initiative was organised by “Inspiring Girls”, a charity that connects girls in countries across the world to international female role models.
Dollmaker Mattel designed the Cristoforetti lookalike Barbie in 2019. It went on sale in 2021, with part of the profits donated to the charity “Women in Aerospace Europe”.
However, the first Barbie dressed in an astronaut suit was released in 1965 to mirror the outfits worn on the US “Mercury” orbital mission launched in the early ’60s.