Indian-origin Sirisha Bandla all set to fly to space tomorrow on Virgin Galactic Spacecraft
Sirisha Bandla, a 34-year-old aeronautical engineer, is set to become the third Indian-origin woman to head to space when she flies as part of Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed flight test on Sunday.
Bandla, who was born in Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh and brought up in Houston, Texas, will join Sir Richard Branson, the company’s billionaire founder, and five others on board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity to make a journey to the edge of space from New Mexico.
Sirisha Bandla, a Purdue University alumna, will be evaluating the human-tended research experience, using an experiment from the University of Florida that requires several handheld fixation tubes that will be activated at various points in the flight profile, a statement on the Galactic website said.
The “Unity 22” mission will be the twenty-second flight test for VSS Unity and the company’s fourth crewed spaceflight. It will also be the first to carry a full crew of two pilots and four mission specialists in the cabin, including the company’s founder, Sir Branson, who will be testing the private astronaut experience, it said.
Virgin Galactic plans three more test flights before taking “customers” to space. Branson was initially supposed to be on the second demo coming up, but moved it up in an apparent bid to outdo Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. He said Wednesday, after his other company Virgin Orbit launched a batch of satellites, that it’s important for his customers to see him ride his rocket ship first, before they climb on board.