Kellie Gerardi is a 32-year-old bioastronautics researcher at the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences. She will be heading to space aboard Richard Brandon's Virgin Atlantic spaceship, the VSS Unity.
Branson was aboard the initial flight that occurred last week. Commercial service is expected to occur in 2022, with two more test flights scheduled before then. Gerardi's flight details are unknown to the public. Still, she is practicing and researching how to carry out experiments and research in her spacesuit and take lots of supplements, so her immune system is top-notch.
Gerardi will board the spaceship as a payload specialist, which entails carrying multiple experiments during her flight. One of those will be a wearable biomonitoring shirt that has smart sensors from Carré Technologies. This will help test and measure the toll that spaceflight has on humans.
In an interview with USA Today, Gerardi says, "My spaceflight will be the first time we'll be able to collect data during launch, re-entry, and landing, though, so I'm excited to contribute to that novel data collection."
Gerardi has a 3-year-old daughter and is excited to raise her when saying "the sky is the limit" will be outdated. She shares her life as a mom and researcher/astronaut on TikTok and has gained a handsome following. She is humbled by the fact that she will be able to grow the representation of women in space as only 100 women throughout history have ever gone.
"To me, the Space Age is a broader cultural movement, and our next giant leap will require the contributions of artists, engineers and everyone in between," states Gerardi.