British billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s spaceship company, Virgin Galactic, 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.
In March this year, Virgin Galactic completed its first manned space flight from its new homeport in New Mexico. A milestone in Branson’s near two-decades effort to create a commercial “spaceline” to take paying customers into outer space.
Branson founded the company in 2004 and this is the third time his company reported reaching space.