ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. – (June 20, 2024) – Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or the “Company”) today announced a new contract with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (“IIAS”) to fly three research astronauts as part of a future crew aboard the Company’s Delta Class spaceship.

It will be the second research mission that IIAS has conducted with Virgin Galactic. It follows ‘Galactic 05’ in November 2023, which tested novel healthcare technologies and examined how fluids behaved in low gravity to help inform designs for future medical technologies and life-support systems. The mission is anticipated to take place within the first year of Delta commercial service, which remains on track to commence in 2026.

The IIAS astronaut crew expected to participate in the research mission includes:

  • Kellie Gerardi, a bioastronautics researcher and IIAS Director of Human Spaceflight Operations from the U.S. Gerardi previously flew as a payload specialist on the ‘Galactic 05’ research mission.

  • Dr. Shawna Pandya, a physician, aquanaut, bioastronautics researcher, and Director of IIAS’s Space Medicine Group, from Canada.

  • Dr. Norah Patten, an aeronautical engineer and bioastronautics researcher from Ireland.

Full biographies are available here. More information on Virgin Galactic’s research capabilities here.

The mission is designed to enable IIAS to introduce new research while also expanding upon the results from ‘Galactic 05’, during which astronaut Kellie Gerardi was able to successfully validate a fluid behavior theory within the high-quality microgravity conditions available through Virgin Galactic’s unique flight system. The IIAS crew plans to fly additional fluid cells, with payload enhancements including upgrades to camera quality and accelerometer measurements.

Virgin Galactic’s Delta Class spaceships can be configured to fly either six mission specialists, or four specialists and two additional payload racks, depending on customer needs. More information will be shared regarding further mission specialists and payloads joining the IIAS crew on this spaceflight as the manifest expands.

Each Delta spaceship is currently estimated to be capable of flying up to eight space missions per month, which is twelve times the monthly capacity of the Company’s original spaceship, VSS Unity. The new spaceship fleet is anticipated to dramatically increase repeatable and reliable access to the microgravity environment.

“We were thrilled with the results from our fluid cell experiment on ‘Galactic 05’, which demonstrated our ability to accurately predict the behavior of fluid in a container in a weightless environment. We’ll be expanding on that research for our next mission, and I’ll be working to demonstrate our ability to control the behavior of the liquid as well. The quality and repeatability of the microgravity environment provided by Virgin Galactic’s system is truly game-changing and the potential for a ‘fly, fix, fly’ approach opens the door to many exciting possibilities for IIAS to make discoveries that benefit future explorers.”
Kellie Gerardi • Astronaut and IIAS Director of Human Spaceflight Operations
“We’re excited to continue our partnership with IIAS in an expanded capacity. Our suborbital science lab is revolutionizing the field of microgravity research by offering routine, reliable access to space – and it’s great to see institutions like IIAS begin to build iterative and innovative campaigns around suborbital space-based research.”
Sirisha Bandla • Virgin Galactic Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations

Press Assets

You can download b-roll, high-res images and all press materials from the Virgin Galactic Newsroom.

For media inquiries
Aleanna Crane
Vice President, Communications
+1 (575) 800-4422
for media inquiries
Jeff Michael
+1 (661) 754-4300
For investor inquiries
Eric Cerny
Vice President, Investor Relations
+1 (949) 774-7637

About Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic is an aerospace and space travel company, pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers with its advanced air and space vehicles. Scale and profitability are driven by next generation vehicles capable of bringing humans to space at an unprecedented frequency with an industry-leading cost structure. You can find more information at

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We intend such forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). All statements contained in this press release other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, statements regarding the proposed research mission and the anticipated timing thereof, including the expected astronauts, inflight activities and experiments, and the expectation to validate and expand upon the prior research conducted on Galactic 05, our spaceflight systems, increasing our flight rate, providing repeatable and reliable access to space, the development timeline of the Delta Class spaceships, commencement of commercial service of our Delta fleet and timing thereof, and the estimated number of monthly flights of the Delta Class spaceships are forward-looking statements. The words “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “potential,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “strategy,” “future,” “could,” “would,” “project,” “plan,” “target,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, though not all forward-looking statements use these words or expressions. These statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including but not limited to, any delay in future commercial flights of our spaceflight fleet, our ability to successfully develop and test our Delta fleet and the time and costs associated with doing so, the safety of our spaceflight systems, our expected capital requirements and the availability of additional financing, and the other, risks and uncertainties included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023, as such factors may be updated from time to time in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), accessible on the SEC’s website at and the Investor Relations section of our website at, which could cause our actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements made in this press release. Any such forward-looking statements represent management’s estimates as of the date of this press release. While we may elect to update such forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we disclaim any obligation to do so, even if subsequent events cause our views to change.