A gallery assistant looks at Barbie dolls from the "Inspiring Women" collection including one of British model Adwoa Aboah during the "Barbie: The Exhibition" photocall at The Design Museum in London on July 1, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

LONDON: A Barbie that spent six months orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station will go on public display for this first time this week at the Design Museum in London.

It will be part of a new exhibition marking the 65th anniversary of the Barbie brand, set to open on Friday in partnership with the doll’s creator Mattel.

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The Barbie was made to resemble Samantha Cristoforetti, the first female commander of the ISS. On the mission in which she was accompanied by her lookalike Barbie, Cristoforetti became the first European woman to complete a spacewalk.

There will be videos on display of Cristoforetti answering questions from space to encourage young girls to become scientists and astronauts - all while floating in zero gravity alongside the Barbie.

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“We’re so excited that the first time anyone can see Samantha’s doll since it returned from the International Space Station is at the Design Museum this summer,” said curator Danielle Thom.

“Its remarkable journey on Samantha’s history-making mission 400 kilometres above the Earth was one of the most dramatic moments in Barbie’s evolving story.”

Cristoforetti said she was “thrilled” her Barbie would play a “starring role” in the exhibition.

Image Credit: AFP

Highlighting other connections between Barbie and the cosmos, there will be a rare edition of the first space-themed Barbie on display.

The silver “Miss Astronaut” was Barbie’s first depiction as an astronaut released in 1965, four years before Neil Armstrong reached the moon.

Another Barbie in a metallic pink spacesuit on display was released in 1985 after Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.

Image Credit: AFP

Other rare dolls will include a prototype of the first Talking Barbie launched in 1968 and one of the earliest first edition Barbie dolls.

Visitors can also expect some more iconic figurines on display, including the Sunset Malibu Barbie and Day to Night Barbie.

Charting the changing design of Barbie through time, the exhibition will also include friends of Barbie including Midge, and a while section dedicated to Ken, Barbie’s male companion.

Ever since the “Barbie” movie starring Margot Robbie hit cinemas and broke box office records last year, the doll has become ever-more prominent in popular culture, making forays into fashion, music, and now design.