Last week, Matildas' soccer star Mary Fowler was among nine female athletes who were honoured with a Barbie doll in their image. But did you know that Barbie was first represented as an astronaut as early as 1965? 

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'Mini Mary' dressed in pink and white on the right. The other atheletes recognised were Venus Williams (tennis player), Christine Sinclair (soccer player), Estelle Mossely (boxer), Alexa Moreno (gymnast), Susana Rodriguez (Paratriathlon Athlete), Federica Pellegrini (swimmer), and Ewa Swoboda (Track and Field Sprinter).


Space Barbies

With the Space Race in full swing, one of the earliest career outfits released for the iconic female fashion doll was that of Miss Astronaut! This costume included a silvery spacesuit resembling the ones worn by the Mercury and Gemini astronauts, with sensible brown boots – unlike Barbie’s usual high heels!  

Ironically, the Miss Astronaut Barbie outfit was released after NASA ruled out selecting women as astronauts, and 18 years before Sally Ride became the United States’ first female astronaut in 1983. NASA’s new female Space Shuttle Mission Specialist astronauts inspired a Black Astronaut Barbie in 1985, seven years before doctor and engineer Mae Jemison became the first Black woman to make a spaceflight. This Astronaut Barbie came with a totally 80s shiny pink spacesuit! 

The 25th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1994 saw a new Astronaut Barbie, wearing a much more realistic white spacesuit. Since then, there have been several space-themed Barbies, including Space Camp Barbie, Mars Explorer Barbie, and Space Scientist Barbie. In recent years, the Barbie Signature series has included dolls of Katherine Johnson, a Black NASA mathematician who worked on the Mercury program, Sally Ride, and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. 

The Barbie Space Discovery doll became the first Barbie to really go into space, when two dolls from this line travelled to the International Space Station in 2022, for the Mattel company’s “Mission DreamStar” expedition.  

Barbie dolls in a space station

A group of Barbies at a gathering for the second last Space Shuttle mission in 2011. The image includes the 1994 Apollo 11 25th anniversary Astronaut Barbie and Star Trek Barbie! Credit: (NASA/Paul E. Alers)

Barbie dolls in a space station

Two space Barbies touring the International Space Station.

Credit: Mattel

In fact, the connection between Barbies and space was highlighted at the cinemas last year.  

There were multiple references to space in the 2023 Barbie movie, including a pink rocket used by the characters to travel from Barbieland to the real world.  

The movie even produced one of the most iconic modern space pop culture lines — "Yay, space!"

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Margot Robbie, the lead actor in the Barbie movie.
Credit: Vogue

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Caption: The Barbie Space Discovery dolls on the Mattel “Mission DreamStar” promotion, taken by one of the female astronauts. The image is taken in front of the International Space Station’s cupola window in 2022. 

Credit: NASA Astronaut/Kayla Barron/Johnson Space Center.

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We Acknowledge First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Custodians and Lore Keepers of the oldest living culture and pay respects to their Elders past and present. We extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.