"a company whose mission is to make space available"
US Indian woman Sirisha Bandla will be among six passengers onboard Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight into space.
Originally from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, Sirisha will be the second Indian-born woman to go into space after Kalpana Chawla.
Sirisha is the vice president of government affairs and research operations for Virgin Galactic.
She joined Virgin Galactic in 2015 as a government affairs manager and has risen through the ranks.
On being part of the space trip, Sirisha Bandla said:
“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.”
— Sirisha Bandla (@SirishaBandla) July 2, 2021
The Virgin Galactic flight will last anywhere between 60 and 75 minutes.
It will take off and land back at Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America in New Mexico.
The flight will be the first to carry a crew of company employees.
Sirisha’s grandfather Bandla Ragaiah, an agricultural scientist, said:
“I have always seen her zeal to achieve something big and finally, she is going to fulfil her dream.
“I am sure she will succeed in this mission and make the whole country proud.”
Another relative, Ramarao Kanneganti, said:
“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!’’
On July 1, 2021, Sir Richard Branson said the flight should take place on July 11, 2021, and that he will also be a passenger.
“I truly believe that space belongs to all of us.”
“After 17 years of research, engineering and innovation, the new commercial space industry is poised to open the Universe to humankind and change the world for good.
“It’s one thing to have a dream of making space more accessible to all; it’s another for an incredible team to collectively turn that dream into reality.”
The news came just hours after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said that he will go into space on July 20 with a female aerospace pioneer who has waited 60 years to fly into space.
Bezos will be on Blue Origin’s debut launch with people on board.
He will be 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 in a 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.