16 October 2021 14:00

India-born Sirisha Bandla to fly into space with Virgin’s Richard Branson

"Indian-origin women continue to break the proverbial glass ceiling and prove their mettle."

Indian-origin astronaut, Sirisha Bandla will be taking care of the researcher experience on the Unity22 mission, when a Virgin Galactic test flight travels to the edge of space on July 11.

The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh born Ms Bandla will be one of the six space travellers aboard ‘VSS Unity’ of Virgin Galactic, scheduled to take off to space on July 11 from New Mexico alongside the founder of Virgin Galactic Richard Branson.

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Six space travellers aboard ‘VSS Unity’ Picture Source: Twitter @virgingalactic

The Telugu woman hailing from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district was brought up in Houston. She will become the second India-born woman to fly into space after Kalpana Chawla.

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Rakesh Sharma and Sunita Williams were the other people of Indian origin who went into space prior to Ms Bandla.

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‘VSS Unity’ Picture Source: Twitter @virgingalactic

Taking to Twitter, the 34-year-old aeronautical engineer shared she was “incredibly honoured” to be part of the crew.

“I am so incredibly honoured 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 posted.

Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also shared two pictures – one featuring all five members of the crew and a solo photo of Sirisha Bandla on his official Twitter handle.

“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!” Mr Naidu tweeted.

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Sirisha Bandla; Picture Source: Twitter @virgingalactic

UK billionaire and founder of the Virgin Galactic company Richard Branson announced on June 2 that he will make a space flight on July 11, earlier than Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

“I’ve always been a dreamer. My mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars. On July 11, it’s time to turn that dream into a reality aboard the next @VirginGalactic spaceflight,” Branson tweeted.

The company confirmed the information and published a video, presenting six crew members of the next space flight, including Bandla.

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“Join us July 11th for our first fully crewed rocket-powered test flight and the beginning of a new space age. The countdown begins,” the company wrote on its Twitter page.

Dr Ragaiah, the grandfather of Sirisha who lives in India said, She is brave, strong in decision making, and has been fascinated by the sky from the beginning.

“I, along with my friends and relatives, wish her a successful and happy return to the land after completion of her journey,” Dr Ragaiah said while speaking to media in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district.

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