Indian-Born Astronaut Sirisha Bandla to Fly to Space With Richard Branson


Sirisha Bandla, an Indian-origin astronaut, 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.

Andhra Pradesh-born 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.

The Telugu woman hailing from Andhra’s Guntur district who was brought up in Houston will become the second India-born woman to fly into space after Kalpana Chawla. Rakesh Sharma, and Sunita Williams were the other Indians who went into space prior to Bandla.

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!,” the Chief Minister tweeted.

UK billionaire and founder of the Virgin Galactic company Richard Branson announced on June 2 that he will make a spaceflight 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 on late Thursday.

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

“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.

Bezos is also going to make a spaceflight on board the New Shepard spaceship, which is scheduled for July 20. 

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