TikToker in space: Virgin Galactic to send up well-known researcher

Washington, June 4, 2021: Space tourism company Virgin Galactic reported Thursday it will send specialist Kellie Gerardi, a notable figure on TikTok, into space to lead tests for a few minutes while weightless.

The move presents an ideal chance for the organization to flaunt its ambitions not only to send affluent travelers on joy rides costing $200,000 or more but also to advance science. The 32-year-old bioastronautics researcher, who is associated with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS), said she always believed the space tourism industry’s success could likewise “help open up promising opportunities for scientists such as myself.”

The primary trial led by Gerardi, who has in excess of 400,000 TikTok followers and nearly 130,000 on Instagram, will include “Astro skin,” in which sensors are put under her flight suit to gather biometric information. While the process has effectively been utilized onboard the International Space Station, information has at no other time been gathered during landing and departure.

Virgin Galactic, established by British tycoon Richard Branson, desires to start commercial suborbital trips in mid-2022, with long-term designs for 400 trips per year. The flights are a long way from the classic rocket experience, with a transporter plane taking off from a runway at that point dropping the shuttle once in the air, which at that point lights its motors.

Asked if only a couple minutes in space was adequate, Gerardi said “continuous successive minutes of time in space in microgravity to do my research” was “actually my dream.” Until now she has simply had the option to load onto parabolic flights which duplicate zero gravity conditions for a couple of moments, accomplished in regular planes that slant at solid points towards the sky and afterward towards the ground. When the experiments are shipped off the ISS, Gerardi said, they stay there for a while, however, the researchers sadly don’t go with them.

“They’re not able to check in on it or manipulate it, or fix it,” Gerardi said. With Virgin Galactic’s expected frequent flight schedule, “we could validate data over and over instead of having to wait years, you know, for another spaceflight opportunity,” she said.

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