Meet American Girl's girl of the year, future astronaut Luciana Vega

NASA American Girl to work on astronaut doll Luciana Vega

Meet American Girl's girl of the year, future astronaut Luciana Vega

The Luciana Vega doll and its full product line, including STEM-inspired accessories and outfits, will launch on January 1, 2018 online, in physical retail stores, and trough American Girl's catalog. American Girl is known for its series of dolls that define one or other character in life, and inspire young girls to find their place in the world.

NASA, through a Space Act Agreement, offered input on the creation of this character - which American Girl has named its 2018 girl of the year - and a new chapter book series written by Erin Teagan and published by Scholastic that chronicles Luciana's trip to space camp and beyond.

Children also can connect with the doll via the American Girl app, where they can scan the catalog pages and products "to unlock exclusive content, including augmented reality, trailers and videos, space simulations, quizzes and challenges", the statement said.

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Behnken says, "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", Behnken said.

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

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'I've been in space and fixed the Hubble space telescope, so I have some perspective on how we use robotics, how we train for robotics'. In 2001, the company started making "Girl of the Year" dolls, with each doll boasting its own unique story and set of accessories.

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. The 2017 Girl of the Year was Gabriela McBride, an artist, poet and community activist.

The doll, its back story and its product line were developed with advice from NASA astronaut Megan McArthur Behnken, former NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan, U.S. Space and Rocket Center CEO Deborah Barnhart and Maureen O'Brien, manager of strategic alliances at NASA.

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That announcement came while 20 girls filled the studio wearing NASA jumpsuits, with the group of youngsters each getting to take home one of the dolls before they are released in stores on Monday. She was preceded in 2015 by Lea Clark, a tween photographer who visits her brother in the Amazon rainforest. More importantly, they made Lea a tiny sloth.

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