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NASA's 1st interactive graphic novel 'First Woman' tells of one girl's dream to walk on the moon

NASA released its first digital graphic novel featuring the first woman to walk on the moon, allowing readers to explore space through interactive experiences. 

Dubbed "First Woman: NASA's Promise for Humanity," the graphic novel tells the story of a fictional astronaut named Callie Rodriguez — the first woman and person of color to land on the lunar surface — and her robot sidekick RT. The story aims to inspire the next generation of explorers, according to a statement from NASA. 

"A lot of the things that [Callie] goes through, I think a lot of people experience in their lives, overcoming challenges and hardships. But she continued to persevere to finally become an astronaut and actually become the first woman to set foot on the lunar surface," Derek Wang, director of communications at NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, told Space.com.

Video: Peer into NASA's interactive graphic novel 'First Woman
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"What's also unique about this, too, is that this is the first audio graphic novel NASA has ever put out," Wang said, adding that the graphic novel's creators were focused on making it as accessible as possible. "We wanted to make sure that those with disabilities, or those that might be visually impaired, can also be a part of our experience, so we created a very nice graphic audio version of the storytelling, which includes really nice descriptions of all the scenes."

The digital comic also includes augmented reality features "so as you're reading through the comic book, if you want to learn more about certain aspects or different technologies throughout the comic book, we have embedded QR codes that actually activate augmented reality elements," Wang said. "So you can be in the lunar outposts, you can be on the lunar surface, [and] you can explore the Space Launch System that will be getting our next set of astronauts to the moon."

NASA released its first digital, interactive graphic novel, "First Woman: NASA's Promise for Humanity," featuring the story of a fictional astronaut, Callie Rodriguez, who is the first woman and person of color to explore the moon. (Image credit: NASA)

The first issue, titled "Dream to Reality," was released on Sept. 25 in honor of National Comic Book Day, and just days ahead of World Space Week — an international celebration that runs from Oct. 4 through Oct. 10, with this year's theme celebrating women in space.

"The story of Callie captures how passion, dedication, and perseverance allow us to turn our dreams into reality," Pam Melroy, NASA Deputy Administrator, said in the statement. "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."

As the first woman and person of color to go to the moon, Callie's story represents historic milestones of NASA's planned Artemis missions. The first issue follows Callie's journey from traveling to, landing on and exploring the moon with her sidekick, RT. You can interact with the pair by scanning QR codes in the digital novel or through the WebAR link to experience the story through augmented reality, according to the statement from NASA. 

Related: How NASA's Artemis moon landing with astronauts works

The 40-page comic book was written by Brad Gann and Steven List, and illustrated by Brent Donoho and Kaitlin Reid. The interactive components include life-sized environments, such as the lunar surface, and 3D objects, like NASA's Orion spacecraft. The novel also includes videos, games and challenges to earn collector badges and ways for readers to participate in NASA missions virtually. 

"We crafted this graphic novel and digital ecosystem to share NASA's work in a different and exciting way," Wang said in the statement. "We set out to make the content both engaging and accessible. 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."

You can download the digital graphic novel on your smartphone or listen to the audio version exclusively on NASA's SoundCloud. The First Woman app is available for Android or iOS devices. NASA is also planning to release a Spanish version of the story, which will be made available on their website in the future, according to the statement. 

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Samantha Mathewson joined Space.com as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.