TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (KRQE) – Virgin Galactic has announced its plans for “Galactic 05,” which will be the company’s sixth spaceflight in six months and its tenth flight to date. “Galactic 05” has a planned flight window of November 2, and Virgin Galactic says, “Insights from this flight will be used to enhance and refine the research capabilities of our future Delta fleet.”

The mission will include three “dynamic crew” members:

  • Astronaut 020 – Dr. Alan Stern, U.S. Planetary Scientist and Associate Vice President in Southwest Research Institute’s (SwRI) Space Sector
  • Astronaut 021 – Kellie Gerardi, U.S. Payload Specialist and Bioastronautics Researcher for the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS)
  • Astronaut 022 – Private Astronaut – Franco-Italian nationality

Virgin Galactic says Dr. Stern is a former NASA Associate Administrator and will be training during the flight for future spaceflights. Sponsored by the Southwest Research Institute, Dr. Stern will “collect physiological data related to human spaceflight and conduct practice activities for an astronomical experiment” while on the flight.

Gerardi will be examining how “confined fluid” behaves as part of her research regarding healthcare technologies in “microgravity conditions.” Virgin Galactic says, “Her research has been developed through extensive reduced gravity flight campaigns with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and would now be advanced through a suborbital flight.”

The Virgin Galactic crew includes the following:

  • VSS Unity Commander Mike Masucci
  • Pilot Kelly Latimer
  • VMS Eve Commander Jameel Janjua
  • Pilot Andy Edgell
  • Astronaut Instructor Colin Bennett

“After years of sending machines to conduct research on my behalf, I’m thrilled to be making this maiden spaceflight. What sets this flight apart from others, and which likely represents a new kind of space activity, is that more than anything else, I will be training – in space – for future space experiments I will be performing with NASA funding. Virgin’s suborbital costs are low enough to open up space training actually in space as a viable opportunity, and that is a game changer.”

Dr. Alan Stern, on behalf of SwRI

“This mission represents the beginning of a new era of access to space for the research community, and the culmination of a personal lifelong dream. I’m grateful for the support and confidence that IIAS continues to place in me, and I’m looking forward to paving the way for our many talented researchers who will follow, using space as a laboratory to benefit humanity,”

Kellie Gerardi, on behalf of IIAS.