First scientist slated to fly to space on Virgin Galactic’s suborbital tourist rocket

Image: Virgin Galactic

Planetary scientist Alan Stern will become one of the first researchers to fly to space on board a future flight of Virgin Galactic’s tourist spaceplane. Stern will oversee two different experiments while on board the flight, each meant to take advantage of the brief stay in the space environment.

Virgin Galactic’s vehicle, SpaceShipTwo, is designed to take customers high above Earth to get a taste of weightlessness. The company has flown both people and research experiments to space before on the spaceplane. But the company has yet to fly any actual researchers on the vehicle. All of the research payloads that have flown on SpaceShipTwo so far have been automated. Most of this research is funded and arranged through NASA, which wouldn’t…

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