Space tourism company Virgin Galactic has announced its intention to send 32-year-old researcher Kelly Girardi, who is very popular on the social network TikTok, to space to conduct experiments for a few minutes in light of weightlessness.
This step is a way for Virgin Galactic to show its ambition to send scientists to space who contribute to the progress of research and master the art of communication in this regard, not just enabling wealthy customers to travel to space for fun only, in exchange for tickets that cost more than 200 thousand dollars.
The researcher in biospace science (the study of the impact of space on the human body) at the International Institute of Aeronautics, who was chosen for this mission, said that the renaissance of the commercial space industry “completely changed the situation, and represented a turning point that allows researchers to conduct experiments” in the absence of gravity.
The number of Kelly Girardi’s followers on the short video clips platform “Tik Tok” is more than 400,000, while the number of her followers on “Instagram” is 130,000.
She is also the author of a book that seeks to popularize the idea of making the space sector accessible to all. Girardi’s first experiment, “Astroskin,” is based on placing sensors under her suit to collect vital data.
The device has previously been tested on the International Space Station, but not during the take-off and landing phases. The second test aims to study the behavior of fluids in space. The Virgin Galactic vehicle is still in the testing phase, but the company, which has not set a date for this flight, has promised to launch regular commercial operations in early 2022.
The vehicle is not a conventional missile, but rather a carrier aircraft that takes off from a runway and then launches while in the air the spacecraft suspended below it, and the latter operates its engines until it reaches space.
Girardi saw her flight as “a dream”, albeit limited to a few minutes in space, as the researcher has so far only been able to ride on parabolic flights that provide just a few seconds of microgravity. When scientific experiments are sent to the International Space Station, they remain there for several months, but after that, “researchers cannot fly them,” Kelly Girardi explained. “They can’t act on it or correct it” if necessary, she added.
Through the Virgin Galactic solution, which aims to operate about 400 flights per year, researchers can “validate the data over and over again, without having to wait years for a new flying opportunity,” according to Girardi.