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Virgin Galactic Says It Will Send Astronaut Into Space

Astronaut Kellie Gerardi will make a trip to space to 'conduct experiments and test new healthcare technologies,' Virgin Galactic says.

Virgin Galactic  (SPCE) - Get Report shares rose Thursday after the space-travel company said it would fly an astronaut into space.

Kellie Gerardi, a researcher for the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences, will make the trip to “conduct experiments and test new healthcare technologies,” the company said.

“Virgin Galactic expects to provide new benefits to the space science research community by offering repeatability, affordability and quality of the weightless environment, which have historically been barriers for many wanting to conduct space-flight research.”

Virgin, founded and partly owned by U.K. entrepreneur Richard Branson, recently traded at $32, up 2.8%. The stock, which finished Wednesday trading up 7.8%, has climbed 13% in the past six months.

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“Kellie will unbuckle from her seat and undertake the actions necessary to complete each experiment during several minutes of weightlessness,” Virgin said.

“The research experiments will include bio-monitoring instrumentation, including the Astroskin Bio-Monitor wearable sensors system.”

The system measures “the biological effects of launch, weightlessness, reentry, and landing on space-flight participants,” the company said.

“A second piece of research includes a free-floating fluid configuration experiment, whose data can be used to help inform novel technologies ranging from fluid-based accelerometer systems to humidifiers for spacecraft life support systems, and new syringe designs for administering medication in space."

Last month, Virgin finished its first space flight from Spaceport America, N.M., its third successful trip outside planet Earth. It collected key data for the Federal Aviation Administration. The trip’s success pushed Virgin shares higher.

Afterward, Founder Jim Cramer compared Virgin to a non-fungible token.