AP girl Sirisha Bandla to fly into space

Sirisha Bandla will become the second Indian-born woman to fly into space on July 11. She will be one of the five people alongside Virgin Galactic’s billionaire founder Richard Branson to travel to space, in what will be the company’s fourth crewed test space flight.

Announced on Friday, the mission will take off nine days ahead of the departure of billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ trip to space, which was announced last month.

“I am so incredibly honored 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,” Bandla, who was born in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh and grew up in Houston, Texas, said on micro blogging platform Twitter on Friday.

I am so incredibly honored to be a part of the amazing crew of #Unity22, and to be a part of a company whose missio… https://t.co/Jp7LOI1fvu

— Sirisha Bandla (@SirishaBandla) 1625230883000

Bandla started working at Virgin Galactic in 2015 and is currently vice president of government affairs at the company. She is a graduate in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University and also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Georgetown University.

Prior to working at Virgin Galactic, she worked as an aerospace engineer in Texas, following which she had a job in space policy at the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF).

Branson and Bandla will be joined by Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses and lead operations engineer Colin Bennett on the flight. Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci will pilot the Unity spacecraft.

Bandla will be the fourth Indian-origin person to fly to space. Only Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to travel to space, Kalpana Chawla and Indian-American Astronaut Sunita Williams, precede Bandla.

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