HOUSTON: Sirisha Bandla Becomes Third Indian-Origin Woman To Fly Into Space

HOUSTON: Sirisha Bandla Becomes Third Indian-Origin Woman To Fly Into Space

HOUSTON: Aeronautical engineer Sirisha
Bandla on Sunday became the third Indian-origin woman to fly into space when
she joined British billionaire Richard Branson on Virgin Galactic’s first fully
crewed suborbital test flight from New Mexico.

Galactic’s VSS Unity, as the spaceplane is called, took off for the 1.5-hour
mission above New Mexico following a 90-minute delay due to bad weather.

Ms Bandla
joined Branson and five others on board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity to
make a journey to the edge of space from New Mexico.

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,”
34-year-old Bandla tweeted days before the flight.

I first heard that I was getting this opportunity, it was just… I was
speechless. I think that that probably captured it very well. This is an
incredible opportunity to get people from different backgrounds, different
geographies and different communities into space,” she said in a video posted
on the Twitter handle of Virgin Galactic on July 6.

primary objective for Unity 22 was to serve as a test flight for future
commercial passenger flights by Virgin Galactic.

Bandla, who was born in Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh and brought up in Houston,
was astronaut No 004 and her flight role was Researcher Experience. The other
crew members were two pilots and three other crewmates, including billionaire
Branson, who turns 71 in a week.

became the third Indian-origin woman to fly into space after Kalpana Chawla and
Sunita Williams. Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma is the only Indian citizen to
travel in space. The former Indian Air Force pilot flew aboard Soyuz T-11 on
April 3, 1984, part of the Soviet Interkosmos programme.

Ms Bandla
moved to the US when she was 4-year-old and graduated with a Bachelor of
Science degree from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue
University in 2011. She finished her Master of Business Administration degree
from George Washington University in 2015.

Ms Bandla
wanted to be an astronaut for the US National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA). However, her poor eyesight meant she could not meet the
requirements to become a pilot or an astronaut.

When she
was at Purdue University, a professor told her about an opportunity in the
field of commercial space flights.

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