In the last couple of days, Sirisha Bandla has made headlines as the second Indian-origin woman to head to space as part of Virgin Space Ship Unity on July 11.
She will be one of the six space travellers aboard ‘VSS Unity’ of Virgin Galactic, scheduled to take off from New Mexico alongside the company’s founder Richard Branson. The 34-year-old aeronautical engineer was born in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district and brought up in Houston, Texas.
Bandla took to her social media account to share her excitement. She wrote, “I am so incredibly honored to be a part of the amazing crew of Unity 22, and to be a part of a company whose mission is to make space available to all.”
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Former Andhra Pradesh CM, N Chandrababu Naidu also took to his social media account to acknowledge Bandla’s achievement. He wrote, “Indian-origin women continue to break the proverbial glass ceiling and prove their mettle. On July 11th, Sirisha Bandla with Telugu roots is set to fly to space aboard VSS Unity with Richard Branson and the team marking the dawn of the new space age, making all Indians proud!”
Bandla’s paternal grandfather Dr Ragaiah told news agency ANI about her ability to make strong decisions from the very beginning. He says, “I am overwhelmed with joy and happiness that my second granddaughter is going to space. She has been very brave right from the beginning and is a very strong decision-maker. She completed her schooling in the US. She has always had a fascination for the sky.”
Bandla completed her Bachelor of Science in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 2011 from Purdue University and went on to do her MBA from George Washington University in 2015. Further, she joined Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic after completing her studies and is currently the Vice President of Government Affairs at the British-American spaceflight company.