Sirisha Bandla will soon become the second India-born woman to fly to space. The first Indian-origin woman to achieve the feat was Kalpana Chawla. After she embarks on her journey on July 11, Bandla would be the fourth Indian to fly into space.
Who is Sirisha Bandla?
Born in Tenali of Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district, Bandla was raised in Houston, Texas of the USA, The New Indian Express reported. The 34-year-old is among the six-member crew of VSS Unity — Virgin Galactic’s suborbital rocket-powered space plane.
As per the report, Bandla is vice-president, government affairs and research operations wing of Virgin Galactic as well as its sister concern, Virgin Orbit.
During the space flight, which is the 22nd for VSS Unity, Sirisha’s role will be to evaluate research experience. Sharing the video of the crew members, Bandla tweeted on Friday (July 2), “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.” Expressing elation at his granddaughter’s feat, Sirisha’s grandfather Bandla Ragaiah, an agricultural scientist and a resident of Janapdu village in Piduguralla, Guntur district told The New Indian Express, “I’ve always seen her zeal to achieve something big and finally, she is going to fulfil her dream. I’m sure she will succeed in this mission and make the whole country proud.”
Sirisha Bandla told Space.com in June that the Virgin Galactic flight will last approximately 60 to 75 minutes and will take off and land back at Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Sirisha’s father Dr Bandla Muralidhar is a scientist and a member of Senior Executive Services, United States Government. He and his wife Bandla Anuradha migrated to the US when Sirisha was 5.
She studied aeronautical engineering at Purdue University and also has an MBA from George Washington University. In 2015, she joined Virgin Galactic as a member of government affairs and research operations and was later promoted as vice-president.