Space Barbies go on display at Smithsonian


The first two Barbie dolls to go to space spent several months aboard the International Space Station in 2022.

She’s been president and she’s been a spaghetti chef, but none of over 200 careers she’s had since starting out as a teenage fashion model in 1959 has taken her quite so far as her job as an astronaut.

After spending several weeks on the International Space Station (ISS) last year, the first two Barbie dolls to travel to space were put on display this week at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

The two dolls are from Mattel’s Space Discovery line launched in 2021 and could be bought off-the-shelf – they weren’t custom made for a space flight. However, like anything else that goes to space, they received special preparation before the flight, according to the Smithsonian.

They were removed of any accessories, including a helmet, and their hair was styled in a way to prevent from shedding into the spaceflight environment.

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First two Barbie dolls to go to space on display at Udvar-Hazy Center. Image by the Smithsonian

The two Barbie dolls blasted off to space aboard an Antares rocket in February 2022 and spent several weeks touring the ISS. Their spacesuits were styled on actual Sokol pressure garments worn by astronauts, who previously launched to the ISS on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

The pair was sent to space as part of Mattel’s Mission DreamStar expedition aimed at encouraging children to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Upon their return, the Barbies were donated to the Smithsonian.

Here, they join other space-themed Barbie dolls in the collection, including Miss Astronaut, the first of their predecessors to be outfitted in a spacesuit in 1965, 13 years before NASA accepted its first female astronauts and four years before Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon.

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Other space-themed Barbie dolls in the collection. Images by the Smithsonian

There’s also an Astronaut Barbie from 1985 donning a pink spacesuit, breaking barriers as the first black Barbie astronaut, and a Barbie released in 1994 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon-landing mission.

Other toys that previously traveled to space include a Slinky and a Yo-Yo in 1985, and fittingly, the Toy Story astronaut Buzz Lightyear in 2008, now also part of the Smithsonian collection.


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