'Just what girls do': Virgin Galactic astronaut Kellie Gerardi describes becoming 92nd woman in space

Kellie Gerardi and Ketty Maisonrouge became the 92nd and 93rd women to fly in space.

Kellie Gerardi is many things: space scientist, mother, author, and, most recently, she added space explorer to her list of accomplishments.

While nearly 600 men have spent time in space, less than 100 women have successfully flown in space, and two of them flew on Virgin Galactic's most recent suborbital spaceflight in November

Gerardi and Ketty Maisonrouge are the 92nd and 93rd women to fly in space, according to Supercluster's astronaut database. That number is rising with access to suborbital spaceflights with companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin and launches to low-Earth orbit with SpaceX

Gerardi had her mother and 6-year-old daughter on the ground at Spaceport America in New Mexico for her launch and landing. She told FOX Weather why having three generations of women there was meaningful. 


"When my mom was growing up and when she was born, human beings hadn't yet been to space, and women weren't yet eligible to be astronauts in the United States when she was a little girl," Gerardi said. "Just one generation later, she was watching her daughter fly to space, and she's watching her granddaughter take it for granted and think that's just what girls do."

More than a month after her spaceflight, Gerardi still struggles to describe the vastness of space and our planet. She said it was a "dream come true."

"I had years and years to prepare for this moment and for seeing the Earth from space with my own eyes. But I don't think anything could have prepared me for experiencing Earth as a planet among other planets," Gerardi said.

Gerardi and Southwest Research Institute planetary scientist Alan Stern used their time in microgravity on Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity spaceplane to conduct multiple research experiments. 


Gerardi flew three experiments on VSS Unity, including two healthcare technologies collecting biometric data. She examined how confined fluid behaves in low gravity and also wore a biomonitoring device known as the Astroskin, developed with the Canadian Space Agency. She also wore a continuous glucose sensor to gather data on how blood glucose changes throughout the low-gravity flight.

"We're going through our data analysis now, but we hit all of our science objectives, and it couldn't have gone better," the Jupiter, Florida, resident said. "I'm so grateful I knew all of my team was watching on the ground in real-time, so it was always top of mind to make sure everything went perfectly."

Gerardi continues to inspire girls and women to explore careers in space through social media and her book series, "Luna Muna." Gerardi said the spunky character was inspired by a bedtime story she made up for her daughter. 

"The intent behind it was to show that space can be equally compatible with sparkles and fun and, you know, cupcakes and all of the things that my daughter loved as a little girl," she said.