Hyderabad: Virgin Galactic’s founder Richard Branson announced Thursday evening that its next test flight will be on July 11, making it nine days ahead of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s spaceflight on June 20 and accompanying Branson is Sirisha Bandla, a woman of Telugu origin.
With this, Sirisha, currently the Vice President, Government Affairs at Virgin Galactic, will be the second Indian-born woman to reach space after Kalpana Chawla.
According to an interview of Sirisha, published in Virgin Galactic’s website, she says knowing about Kalpana Chawla made her consider a career in space.
“I never felt it could be a career for me till I learned about Kalpana Chawla, the first woman of Indian origin to travel to space. It inspired me to go ahead,” says the native of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
A graduate of Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University, Sirisha also has an MBA from George Washington university and also serves on the board of directors for the American Astronautical Society and is a member of Young Professional Advisory Council at Purdue University.
Sirisha will accompany Branson along with mission specialists Beth Moses, Colin Engineer and pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci aboard the VSS Unity Spacecraft on July 11. The spacecraft, launched from an aircraft, is expected to reach an altitude of 88 kilometres above the sea level, officially making it a sub-orbital flight, or reaching the edge of space.
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