November 22, 2016
— The "First Doll in Space" is getting her very own spacesuit.
"Stargazer Lottie," a doll made by Irish toy company Arklu, spent more than 260 days aboard the International Space Station from December 2015 through August 2016 as part of an educational outreach project in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).
The seven-inch-tall (18 cm) figure, which was inspired by a young girl's passion for astronomy and space exploration, launched to space wearing the same outfit in which she is sold at toy stores: in a blue velvet bomber jacket, cerise-colored dungarees and sturdy brown boots, just how a six-year-old might dress to go look up at the night sky.
But in social media updates posted by Arklu and shared by ESA, Lottie appeared to float on the space station wearing a Russian Sokol space suit, like the type British astronaut Tim Peake and his crewmates wore to fly to and from the outpost. Now, Lottie's virtual space suit is becoming a real product.
"A limited edition spacesuit accessory will be launched in 2017 due to popular demand following the 'Lottie in Space' campaign," Arklu announced on Monday (Nov. 21).
Arklu's special edition 'Stargazer Lottie' was described as the "first doll in space" after launching to the space station in 2015. (Arklu)
The news came on the same day that Stargazer Lottie was nominated for the 2017 "Doll of the Year" Award by the Toy Industry Association (TIA). The public can visit TIA's Toy of the Year Awards website, now through Jan. 15, to vote for their favorite toys in 14 categories.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony, known as the "Oscars" of the toy industry, on Feb. 17 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.
Arklu's Special Edition Gold Collection "Stargazer" Lottie is up against Mattel's Barbie, Hasbro's Elena of Avalor, and JAKKS Pacific Disney "Frozen" Northern Lights Elsa doll.
Also up for an award is Arklu's "Fossil Hunter Lottie" in the "Action Figure of the Year" category. This is the first time that Arklu's Lottie dolls have been nominated.
Stargazer Lottie, which was designed with help from ESA and an astronomer at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, includes a toy telescope and tripod (sized to her scale) and solar system collector cards, as well as an information sheet about notable women in the field of astronomy.
Arklu's Stargazer Lottie, still in box, floats in front of a window in the Cupola aboard the International Space Station. (ESA/Arklu)
It was through the company's collaboration with ESA that Arklu was able to arrange for its Lottie doll to be launched to space. The toy was flown aboard the S.S. Deke Slayton II, an Orbital ATK commercial cargo freighter, and returned to Earth on a SpaceX Dragon capsule.
During its time in orbit, the Stargazer Lottie doll, still in its box, was photographed floating before a panel of windows inside the space station's Cupola, with Earth's horizon in the background.
"Space travel is all about pushing boundaries and trying to get the next generation interested in science subjects, so we thought [sending the doll to space] was the perfect fit," said Ian Harkin, Arklu's co-founder and managing director.