HYDERABAD: Sirisha Bandla, a Telugu-origin woman, is all set to realise her childhood dream of going to space. With Virgin Galactic launching its crewed test spaceflight on July 11, Bandla will be the backbone of this operation and accompany company's founder Richard Branson to space.
Aiming to beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos into space, Branson's company on Thursday announced the launch of its fourth test flight to space. The winged rocket ship will soar from New Mexico and will be the first flight carrying a full crew of company employees.
Branson is being accompanied by mission specialists of Virgin Galactic who include chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett and government affairs VP Sirisha Bandla. Pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci will fly the VSS Unity spacecraft.
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
Childhood dream comes true
Sirisha Bandla was born in Andhra Pradesh and grew up in Houston, Texas. Her zeal to learn more about space inspired her to pursue a bachelor's degree in aeronautical-astronautical engineering from Purdue. She also holds an MBA from George Washington University.
After completing her graduation, she worked in the space policy department of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), an industrial association of spaceflight companies.
Bandla has also won the Youth Star Award given by the Telugu Association of North America for her achievements.
She is currently working with the government affairs and business development wing of Virgin Galactic and its sister company, Virgin Orbit. Her contributions supported the LauncherOne and SpaceShipTwo programs.
In her previous stints, Bandla has served as the associate director of the CSF where she worked on various policies to promote the commercial space industry. She has also worked as an aerospace engineer and designed components for advanced aircraft at L-3 Communications in Greenville, Texas.