• NASA released a graphic novel for space enthusiasts "of all ages"
  • It even features a robotic sidekick, named RT
  • The graphic novel is AR and VR enabled 

NASA released an interactive graphic novel to celebrate National Comic Book Day this weekend. The agency is hoping to inspire a new generation of space explorers through the novel, titled "First Woman: NASA's Promise for Humanity."

The graphic novel follows the story of a fictional character, Callie Rodriguez, who is the first woman to explore the moon, NASA said in a news release. In the first issue, called "Dream to Reality," readers can "journey to the moon" with Callie, starting from her dreams of traveling to space as a child to the trials and setbacks she had to face before becoming an astronaut.

"The story of Callie captures how passion, dedication, and perseverance allow us to turn our dreams into reality," NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy said in the news release. "Callie, much like myself, grew her skills, seized learning opportunities, and overcame challenges to become a NASA astronaut. Her diversity is reflected in our own astronaut corps today – it's important we can see ourselves as the explorers among the stars."

The story also features the "robotic sidekick" RT, who was named after Callie's father Arturo, who accompanies Callie on her journey.

"Through this graphic novel, NASA aims to inspire the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation," NASA said.

The 40-page graphic novel is available online. People can even listen to it on SoundCloud. A Spanish version of the novel will be released in the future.

The novel is also VR and AR-enabled, the agency noted. Through the First Woman app, which is available on both Android and iOS, users can enjoy the four "life-size" environments in the novel, as well as three 3D objects, explore NASA technologies that helped Callie and even interact with RT.

"We set out to make the content both engaging and accessible," Derek Wang, director of communications for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at ANSA headquarters, said in the news release. "From space fans of all ages to hardworking educators looking for new ways to get students excited about STEM, we hope that there is something for everyone to enjoy."

Although it is a fictional novel, it is actually in line with the goal of the Artemis mission, which aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the moon and "explore more of the lunar surface than ever before."

The real women who inspired the graphic novel are Valentina Tereshkova, who was the first woman in space, Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, Mae C. Jemison, first Black woman in space, and Peggy Whitson, who was the first woman to be the Commander of the International Space Station.

The first woman to be the launch director, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, and the first Latina woman in space, Ellen Ochoa, were also inspirations for the graphic novel.