Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson announced on Thursday evening that its next test flight to space will be July 11 and he will be among the six people on board. In a moment of pride for the Indian American community, one among the six crew on Virgin Galactic will be a Telugu-origin girl named Sirisha Bandla who will be part of the winged rocket ship that will fly from from New Mexico. Sirisha will be evaluating the human-tended research experience during the flight.
Sirisha Bandla Profile
Sirisha Bandla (34) is the daughter of Anuradha and Dr. Muralidhar Bandla and will be going into space on July 11th at 9 am. Sirisha is the Vice President of Government Affairs at Virgin Galactic. She and Beth Moses will be the two female crew among the six crew members including Richard Branson.
Her parents who originally hail from the Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh had migrated to the United States several years ago. She has a sister and is engaged to Sean Hu who is an electrical engineer, as per her social media handle. She has in several interviews stated that she always wanted to be a part of the space industry since she was little. She played cello and was part of the debating team at high school and loved mathematics. Going into space and being an astronaut was something that she never grew out of no matter what and that drove her decision to pursue Aeronautical engineering from Purdue University. She had also completed her MBA from George Washington University and has been working in the aerospace field for the past 13 years. She has been with Virgin Galactic since 2017 and is based in Baltimore, Washington.
Sirisha's Family Images- Source @SirishaBandla Instagram
The Telugu Association of North America (TANA) also conferred the TANA Youth Star Award to Sirisha in 2020 for her achievement in the field of space research.
Virgin Galactic which will be the fourth flight will launch its rocket ship from an aircraft, reaching an altitude of roughly 55 miles (88 kilometers). The flight by Virgin Galactic lasts about 10 minutes, with three or so minutes of weightlessness. Virgin Galactic's rocket plane glides to a landing on a runway, like NASA's old space shuttles did, with a pair of pilots in charge. As per reports, Virgin Galactic has more than 600 reservations in the pipeline. These original tickets went for USD 250,000. The company will start accepting more following the upcoming flight with Branson.
Join us July 11th for our first fully crewed rocket powered test flight, and the beginning of a new space age.— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) July 1, 2021
The countdown begins. #Unity22
https://t.co/5UalYT7Hjb. @RichardBranson pic.twitter.com/ZL9xbCeWQX