'Incredibly honored': Indian American Sirisha Bandla to fly into space aboard Virgin Galactic flight
Indian American Sirisha Bandla will be one of the six space travellers aboard VSS Unity of Virgin Galactic’s founder Richard Branson, when it is scheduled to blast off on July 11 from New Mexico. As astronaut No 4, Sirisha Bandla's role will be that of a researcher experience. Sirisha Bandla and Beth Moses will be the two women crew members on the trip. The 34-year-old aeronautical engineer, who graduated from Purdue University, will be the second Indian-born woman to go into space after Kalpana Chawla and the fourth Indian to fly into space.
"I am so incredibly honored to be a part of the amazing crew of #Unity22, and to be a part of a company whose mission is to make space available to all," she tweeted along with a video of the crew.
Sirisha Bandla told Space.com last month that the Virgin Galactic flight will last anywhere between approximately 60 and 75 minutes and will take off and land back at Virgin Galactic's Spaceport America in New Mexico.
According to reports, Sirisha Bandla was born in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur and grew up in Houston, Texas. “I have always seen her zeal to achieve something big and finally, she is going to fulfil her dream. I am sure she will succeed in this mission and make the whole country proud,” Sirisha’s grandfather Bandla Ragaiah, an agricultural scientist from Janapdu village in Guntur district, was quoted as saying by The New Indian Express.
Born to Dr Bandla Muralidhar, a scientist and a member of Senior Executive Services in the US government, and Bandla Anuradha, Sirisha’s grandfather said she has always been active and fearless, according to The New Indian Express.
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Bandla, who holds an MBA degree from Georgetown University, began her career at Virgin Galactic in 2015 as a government affairs manager and is now the vice president of government affairs for Richard Branson's company since January this year. She was also a part of the management team of the Washington operations for Virgin Orbit.
Bandla has worked for a space policy job at the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) and L-3 Communications in Greenville, Texas, as an aerospace engineer. She currently serves as a member of the board of directors of the American Astronautical Society and Future Space Leaders Foundation. She is also a member of Purdue University’s Young Professional Advisory Council.