Move over, Elon Musk. You're no longer the only person bidding to be the first on a new planet.
On Jan. 1, the American Girl doll company will release its 2018 "Doll of the Year," an ambitious 11-year-old Chilean named Luciana Vega who is ready to do what it takes to become an astronaut and explore Mars. The doll can be purchased via catalog, online or in store.
The 18-inch doll's elaborate story, written by Erin Teagan, will be available in a Scholastic chapter-book series that focuses on her winning a scholarship to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.
“Luciana is a role model for today’s girls — empowering them to defy stereotypes, and embrace risks that will teach them about failure and success as they chart their own course in life — whatever the goal," Katy Dickson, president of American Girl, said in a statement.
Shoppers can choose fun add-ons from a line of accessories for the doll, including "space-inspired products like a Mars habitat and flight suit," according to the statement.
And this isn't a rinky-dink flight suit, either. It's a full-on, official-looking, NASA-approved suit. Really.
In fact, several NASA and space-exploration experts checked the doll's story and product line for accuracy and authenticity. Among them: Ellen Stofan, former NASA chief scientist; NASA astronaut Megan McArthur Behnken; and Deborah Barnhart, CEO of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
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.
Kids around the country can celebrate the new doll's release at events hosted by stores nationwide. The debut events will feature interactive science demonstrations, galaxy-inspired treats and a free Luciana doll T-shirt, according to the company.
Taking it a step further, American Girl partnered with Scholastic, NASA and Space Camp to launch "Blast off to Discover," a STEM program for kids inspired by Luciana's story who want to learn about space through activities, videos and games.
Check for the program on Scholastic.com on Jan. 31. Families also can enter a "Mission to Mars Sweepstakes" to win a trip to Space Camp.
Other Luciana-related initiatives being held throughout the year, according to a news release, include the following:
- Luciana Retail Events: On Jan.1, American Girl stores nationwide are hosting Luciana's Debut Event, where girls can celebrate the company's first STEM-themed character with fun, interactive science demonstrations, a Moon Phase craft, galaxy-inspired treats, and a free Luciana doll tee to take home. For more details, visit americangirl.com/retail.
- Luciana Online Play: Girls can visit play.americangirl.com/play/girl-of-the-year/luciana/ to read excerpts from the Luciana books and enjoy fun space-inspired activities.
- American Girl World App: Fans can step into the worlds of Luciana and their other favorite American Girl characters and experience their stories in a whole new way. The app is available to download later in January through the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Kindle.
- Luciana-Themed Space Camp: Girls and their families can train just like astronauts—including taking a tumble spin in the Multi-Axis Trainer and designing a robot—at a special Girl of the Year experience created in partnership with Space Camp starting in summer 2018. American Girl is also sponsoring 20 scholarships to attend Space Camp. To learn more, visit americangirl.com/meetluciana.