Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson announced his first trip to space just ahead of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the billionaire will be accompanied by an Indian on-board and it is none other than Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs and research operations for the company, she will be among the five passengers hopping on the trip with Richard Branson.
Sirisha hails from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh; Sirisha will be the second Indian-origin woman to go into space after Kalpana Chawla, who died in the tragic and unfortunate Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
Sirisha joined Virgin Galactic in 2015 as government affairs manager and has since then is growing and making hits through the ranks. She has also been handling Washington operations for Virgin Orbit, which recently delivered a satellite in space using a 747 plane.
She is a graduate of Purdue University; Sirisha has a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University. During her stay in the US, Sirisha has also been closely associated with the Telugu Association of North America (TANA), which is the oldest and biggest Indo-American organization in North America.
Second Indian woman to explore the space
Sirisha will be the second Indian woman in Space; she will be the fourth Indian to achieve the featuring. While Rakesh Sharma is the first Indian ever to go into space, Sirisha is the next to feature after that being done by Kalpana Chawla and Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams.
Virgin Galactic’s announcement
On Thursday the company announced in the evening that its next test flight will be July 11 and that its founder will be among the six people on board. The winged rocket ship will soar from New Mexico — the first carrying a full crew of company employees. It will be only the fourth trip to space for Virgin Galactic.
Check the tweet here
Join us July 11th for our first fully crewed rocket powered test flight, and the beginning of a new space age.
The countdown begins. #Unity22
https://t.co/5UalYT7Hjb. @RichardBranson pic.twitter.com/ZL9xbCeWQX
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) July 1, 2021
The 3 top-notch companies in the battle for the win
Bezos’ Blue Origin said Bezos would be accompanied into space on July 20 by a female aerospace pioneer who’s waited 60 years to rocket away. Amazon’s founder will be on Blue Origin’s debut launch with people on board, accompanied by his brother, the winner of a $28 million charity auction and Wally Funk, one of the last surviving members of the Mercury 13 who was chosen as his “honoured guest.”
Amazon, Virgin and SpaceX are now in a tight race to outcompete each other when it comes to commercial space operations. While Bezos and Branson head out, Elon Musk has been working on plans to send people to Mars with his Starship project and has been doing well with his other firms too.
Sirisha’s achievement, and the reactions of her close ones
Expressing emotions at his granddaughter’s appearance and victory, Sirisha’s Grandfather Bandla Ragaiah, who is an agricultural scientist and a resident of Janapdu village in Piduguralla, Guntur district said that-
“I’ve always seen her zeal to achieve something big and finally, she is going to fulfil her dream. I’m sure she will succeed in this mission and make the whole country proud.”
Sirisha’s father Dr. Bandla Muralidhar is a scientist and a member of Senior Executive Services, United States Government. He and his wife Bandla Anuradha migrated to the US when Sirisha was 5.
Few tweets In the space exploration reference
Indian-origin women continue to break the proverbial glass ceiling and prove their mettle. On July 11th, @SirishaBandla with Telugu roots is set to fly to space aboard VSS Unity with @RichardBranson and the team marking the dawn of the new space age, making all Indians proud! pic.twitter.com/oecuztDRBe
— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) July 2, 2021
Sirisha too made a tweet where she expressed how grateful and happy she is to be a part of the crew. Check her post here.
— Sirisha Bandla (@SirishaBandla) July 2, 2021