Virgin Galactic to fly researcher to space for conducting experiments

FILE PHOTO: Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity is seen during its first manned spaceflight

(Reuters) – British billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s spaceship company, Virgin Galactic Holdings, said on Thursday it will fly researcher Kellie Gerardi to space for testing new healthcare technologies.

Gerardi, a researcher with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences, will serve as a payload specialist and experiment with wearable sensor systems and syringe designs for use in space, among other things.

Following its first manned space flight in May, Virgin Galactic is expected to conduct more test flights, including in partnerships with the Italian Air Force and NASA scientist Alan Stern.

The company’s shares rose about 4% in premarket trading on the news.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)