As Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic moves closer to launching paying customers to the edge of space, it’s announced who another of its first passengers will be.
The commercial space company announced Thursday it will fly researcher Kellie Gerardi from the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences on a dedicated research flight to test new wearable health monitoring sensors and conduct an experiment involving free-floating fluids.
“To call this my life’s dream would be an understatement,” reads a statement from Gerardi, who has experience conducting the experiment on parabolic reduced gravity flights at much lower altitudes with the backing of the Canadian Space Agency.
“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,” added Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier.
Gerardi is also a science communicator, author and popular TikToker.
No date has been set for Gerardi’s flight yet, but it could be as soon as 2022.in May and will likely conduct another before launching Richard Branson on its official debut mission to signal the beginning of commercial operations. Hundreds have already paid to reserve their place in line.
Last year Virgin announced it would send scientist Alan Stern, who led NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, on a similar scientific flight.
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