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WATCH: Kellie Gerardi Shares Next Space Mission In A Wholesome Announcement

Kellie Gerardi, a 35-year-old bioastronautics researcher from Jupiter, Florida, is gearing up for her second spaceflight with Virgin Galactic, scheduled for 2026.

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Ishika Thanvi
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Kellie Gerardi space announcement

Image: Kellie Gerardi on Instagram

Kellie Gerardi, a 35-year-old bioastronautics researcher from Jupiter, Florida, is gearing up for her second spaceflight with Virgin Galactic, scheduled for 2026. This mission will mark another milestone in her career, as she once again embarks on a research venture that promises to push the boundaries of scientific exploration.

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A Veteran of the Stars

Gerardi's initial journey to space took place in November 2023, where she conducted experiments and represented the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS), a nonprofit organization based in Boulder, Colorado. During this mission, she was the first female payload specialist to fly with Virgin Galactic, setting a precedent for future endeavors.

Expanding the Frontier of Research

The upcoming 2026 mission aims to build on the research conducted during her previous flight, particularly focusing on fluid cell experiments. In a statement released on June 20, Virgin Galactic emphasised the mission's goal of leveraging space as a laboratory for scientific advancements.

Gerardi expressed her excitement about the potential benefits of using space for research, stating, "There’s a tidal wave of scientific research that can benefit from responsive, repeatable platforms like Virgin Galactic, and we’re excited for the opportunity to use space as a laboratory to benefit humanity."

Two Women Join Her Next Venture

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Gerardi will not be alone on this mission. She will be accompanied by two other women bioastronautics researchers: Shawna Pandya from Canada and Norah Patten from Ireland. Together, they will travel aboard a Delta Class spaceship, a name that holds special significance for Gerardi as it is also the name of her daughter, Delta Victoria. Reflecting on the personal impact of her space travels, Gerardi shared, "I get emotional when I think about what it means for her to watch me, her mommy, become an astronaut. In Delta’s mind, flying to space is just another thing moms do. She’s going to grow up knowing that not even the sky is a limit."

A Social Media Icon

Gerardi has garnered a significant following on social media, with over 820,000 followers on Instagram. Her advocacy for woman-led space travel and her personal journey have inspired many. She recalls the importance of representation in space exploration, noting, "Less than 100 women in history, and only a handful of moms, have ever flown to space. And I really believe representation matters."

Inspiring Future Generations

Gerardi's fascination with space began in her childhood, fueled by watching rocket launches. However, it wasn't until adulthood that she realized she could actively participate in space exploration. She hopes to see a more inclusive future in space travel, stating, "I want to see people from all backgrounds experience spaceflight. I think humanity will be better off for it. 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."

Kellie Gerardi's upcoming mission symbolizes not just a personal achievement but also a step forward for women in space and the broader vision of inclusive space exploration.

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