Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs and research operations for Virgin Galactic, is all set for a journey to space just ahead of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Sirisha will be among the five passengers to travel to space with Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson.
Sirisha, who hails from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, will be the second Indian-born woman to go into space after Kalpana Chawla. Chawla had tragically lost her life in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
Besides being the second Indian woman to journey to space, Sirisha will also be the fourth Indian to achieve the feat- preceded by Rakesh Sharma, Kalpana Chawla and Indian American astronaut Sunita-Williams.
“Our first fully crewed rocket powered test flight is planned to take place on July 11 with two pilots and four mission specialists including
@RichardBranson onboard. If we were flying your crew, who’d be floating in zero gravity next to you? Tag your astronauts! #Unity22,” Virgin Galactic tweeted.
In 2015, Sirisha joined Virgin Galactic as government affairs manager and there has been no looking back for her since then. A graduate of Purdue University, she has a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University.
“Of course, the coolest thing is that she gets to hobnob with Richard Branson! We all are very proud of her and wishing her safe travels!” Sirisha’s relative Ramarao Kanneganti was quoted as saying.
Sirisha has been closely associated with the oldest and biggest Indo-American organization in North America — Telugu Association of North America (TANA) — while staying in the US.
On July 1, Thursday, Branson’s company announced that its next test flight would be July 11. Its founder will be among the six people who will be on board. This is going to be only the fourth trip to space for Virgin Galactic.
This news came hours after Bezos’ Blue Origin announced that a female aerospace pioneer would accompany Bezos into space on July 20.
On Blue Origin’s debut launch, Amazon’s founder will be accompanied by his brother, the winner of a $28 million charity auction. One of the last surviving members of the Mercury 13, Wally Funk, is going to be his “honoured guest”.