Virgin Galactic to launch scientist into space to conduct unique experiments

Virgin Galactic space plane carries out test flight

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Kellie Gerardi, a researcher for the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS), will be sent into space in order to conduct experiments. Ms Gerardi will take part in a dedicated research mission – which is the first of its kind for Virgin Galactic.

While in space, the researcher will unbuckle from her seat and experience the weightlessness of space.

The research experiments will test bio-monitoring equipment, such as the Astroskin Bio-Monitor wearable sensors system.

This is wearable tech which monitors the biological effects of launch, weightlessness, re-entry into the atmosphere and landing.

Ms Gerardi’s research will also extend to experimenting with “a free-floating fluid configuration”.

The data from this can be used for humidifiers, for spacecraft life support systems, and new syringe designs for administering medication in space.

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said: “We’re thrilled to work with Kellie Gerardi and the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences to help further their research in the bio-medical field.

“One of the unique aspects of our Spaceflight System is that it is pilot-flown, which means we’re able to fly different flight profiles that meet the needs of our passengers in the cabin – whether that’s scientific experiments or people – or in this case both.

“A big part of our mission is to provide scientists and researchers with reliable and frequent access to space for space-based research.

“We are very proud to fly Kellie so she can fulfill a lifelong dream, conduct important research, and inspire the next generation of researchers and astronauts.”

Ms Gerardi said: “To call this my life’s dream would be an understatement.

“I’ve been a champion of Virgin Galactic’s mission to democratise access to space from the earliest days, both during my time working a few test stands away at the Mojave Air & Space Port and through my years helping advance the regulatory framework for commercial human spaceflight with the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

“The opportunity to fly as a payload specialist on a Virgin Galactic spaceflight brings everything full circle for me, and it’s nothing short of an honour to have a front-row seat to the final frontier.

“I’m grateful to IIAS for the support and confidence they continue to place in me, and I look forward to helping pave the path for many talented researchers who are sure to follow.”

A date for the flight has yet to be announced.

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