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Source: @kelliegerardi/instagram

Exclusive: Kellie Gerardi Says It's 'an Honor of a Lifetime' to Become the 90th Woman to Fly to Space: 'I've Learned Never to Bet Against Myself'

Mar. 28 2024, Updated 2:55 p.m. ET

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Kellie Gerardi is out of this world — literally. The astronaut became the 90th woman to fly to space in November 2023, a moment in time she will never forget.

"It’s the honor of a lifetime to be able to achieve a lifelong dream and be able to be a part of helping open access to space for the next generation. We still have not crossed 100 women into space, but I’m very optimistic that that number will soon come. And I think by the time my daughter is my age, we will have had so many different, incredible and exciting missions, and it will be a lot more ubiquitous. I get to be a part of helping open up access to something that I think is motivating and exciting and it’s been an honor of a lifetime," the 35-year-old exclusively tells Morning Honey while talking about her partnership with SunChips, which invites fans to experience a cosmic collaboration in the sky and on their tastebuds with an exclusive, new flavor mash-up – SunChips Pineapple Habanero and Black Bean Spicy Gouda.

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Source: @kelliegerardi/instagram

The scientist is proud of going to space.

"Something I find really motivating is the ability to be my authentic self. And I made a commitment in going to space that I was going to bring my full self and wasn’t necessarily going to tone down any aspects of my personality or femininity in pursuing my passions. Something that I wanted to show my daughter as well is being yourself is always enough. So, that was something that I really tried to show on social media. Space or science isn’t just for one type of person. Everyone can find their place in space," she continues.

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Source: @kelliegerardi/instagram

Kellie Gerardi wants to inspire her daughter.

  • Growing up, the brunette beauty always felt an attachment to space.

    "I grew up in Jupiter, Florida, which is very on brand for someone with my particular passions. I grew up seeing human space flight and had front seats to the final frontier, so I’ve always been interested in space. As I got older, learning about the multitudes of ways that I can contribute to building that future and especially when I became a parent, that mission became even more motivating to me, trying to help contribute to a future that our children will inherit and be proud of," she shares.

    "My dream was always so much bigger than flying to space. It was wanting to be a part of blowing open the door to increase access to space. I feel so grateful that I get to walk through that door myself, but the real goal is holding it open for the next generation who will follow," she adds.

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    kelliegerardi
    Source: @kelliegerardi/instagram

    Kellie Gerardi wants to motivate the next generation to go to space.

    Part of that next generation includes her daughter and others who hope to follow in Gerardi's footsteps.

    "I think bringing my full self to work every day is something that’s really important to me. And I made that commitment when I flew to space that I was going to be my authentic self and not conform to a societal picture of what someone flying to space should look like, sound like, be like, but instead forcing that picture to expand to include me. That was something really important to me that I wanted to demonstrate for my daughter as well," she says.

    Things have started shifting in today's world, but Geradi has high hopes for what women can do in the future.

    "We haven’t always had so much visible representation for women in these roles. I like to think about the fact that at my space flight, I had three generations of women in my family — my mom, myself and my daughter. When my mom was growing up, women weren’t yet eligible to fly to space in the U.S. One single generation later, she’s watching her daughter fly to space and she’s watching her granddaughter take it for granted. It just shows how much can change in a single generation. I think those examples of visible representation are really important, and I aim to use my social media platform to help share those and be an example of those different pathways that people can hopefully see themselves in," she states.

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    kelliegerardi
    Source: @kelliegerardi/instagram

    Kellie Gerardi is the 90th woman to fly to space.

    Since Gerardi has been to space, it made perfect sense to partner with SunChips to invite fans to experience a cosmic collaboration in the sky and on their tastebuds with an exclusive, new flavor mash-up – SunChips Pineapple Habanero and Black Bean Spicy Gouda. SunChips is championing the solar object that inspired its name through a limited-edition offering, which will be given away solely during the 4 minutes and 27 seconds of the solar eclipse's duration of totality.

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    "I was so excited when SunChips invited me to be a part of this campaign. Something that really energizes me is getting to share my love of space with the general public and trying to spread that love, and this campaign was such a perfect example of being able to spread the enthusiasm for such a special celestial event, taking the conversation out of snack aisles and into the general public, so that’s really exciting," she gushes.

    "SunChips has been a part of my life forever. You know I grew up eating SunChips and its such a universally recognized and loved brand. And obviously you can’t do SunChips without the sun, so being able to be a part of this particular campaign where SunChips is meeting the moment of something so unique and such a special celestial event as a total solar eclipse was something that really motivated me to be a part of this. They’ve done such an incredible job planning this campaign in such a creative way to be a conversation starter and a catalyst for more people, both learning about the eclipse and experiencing the eclipse, and then also being the MVP at their watch parties by being able to claim their free limited-edition flavor, so just 10 out of 10 for the SunChips team on this," she adds.

    kelliegerardi
    Source: @kelliegerardi/instagram

    The star is a role model for women.

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    The researches notes there's no better snack to munch on than SunChips.

    "SunChips has created this mouthwatering fusion of flavor in a single bag. You have pineapple habanero, which is reminiscent of sunny skies and bright days, and then you have black bean spicy gouda, which is a nod to the moon with a cheesy touch. This limited-edition flavor is only going to be available during the 4 minutes and 27 seconds of the path of totality, so you really need to be ready to claim your bag on SunChipsSolarEclipse.com. I think it’s such a fun and engaging way to share the enthusiasm for this event with fans everywhere," she explains.

    Additionally, the author is adamant she will see space again.

    "I am the worst at crystal ball predictions. I can say that I always said that space flight for me was a when and not an if, so I knew it was an eventuality, but I could not have predicted the exact path if you had asked me a decade ago. So even now, I would say in 5 to 10 years, I see myself still very much being a part of this and still being as enthusiastic as ever. I believe I will fly to space again. I’ve learned never to bet against myself. So I can say unequivocally, yes, I believe I’ll fly again, but more importantly, I believe I’ll be a part of helping open up access for even more researchers to use space as a laboratory to benefit humanity. That’s the real goal," she says.

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    sunchips solar eclipse
    Source: SunChips

    The researcher is excited about her partnership with SunChips.

    "I think people sometimes think that big dreams require perfection in life, when in fact what big dreams really require is resilience and having self-confidence to know that when you have a big, bold dream, that if you work hard enough and believe in yourself, you can prove just as capable as anyone else. I think that contradiction of humility and confidence is the recipe to success, at least it has been in my career, to keep betting on myself and believing in myself and having the confidence to know that this is for me. These rooms I want to be in, I can prove myself to earn a seat at these tables," she concludes.

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