Bandla was a member of the crew on billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic vessel’s flight in space.
On Sunday, 11 July, Indian-American aeronautical engineer Sirisha Bandla became the third woman of Indian origin to travel to space as member of the crew on billionaire Richard Branson’s flight to the edge of space in his Virgin Galactic vessel, named Unity.
“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”, Bandla had tweeted a few days before the space flight.
“This is an incredible opportunity to get people from different backgrounds, different geographies and different communities into space,” the Texas-based aeronautical engineer said in a video posted on Twitter by Virgin Galactic, referring to the company’s mission to operate regular commercial flights to space by 2022.
Bandla is the third woman of Indian origin to fly to space, following the footsteps of astronauts Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams.
Born in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, Bandla was four years old when she moved to the United States with her family.
After completing her Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University in 2011, Bandla pursued her Masters of Business Administration from George Washington University.
“The whole thing, it was just magical,” a jubilant Sir Richard Branson said after the trip home aboard the space vessel.
The quick up-and-down flight, that lasted about 15 minutes, was a successful commercial plug for Virgin Galactic, which plans to start taking paying customers on rides next year.
Sir Richard’s fellow billionaire rival Jeff Bezos is planning to fly to space in a craft of his own later this month.