Who is Sirisha Bandla? Woman of Indian descent flying in space

Who is Sirisha Bandla: Indo-American Sirisha Bandla is set to join Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson on a trip to space with four other members. Bandla will take off in Virgin Galactic’s winged rocket from New Mexico.

Sirisha Bandla will be the backbone of the operation, which plans to launch a test space flight on July 11. She and Beth Moses will be the two female crew among six Virgin Galactic employees on the trip.

Who is Sirisha Bandla?

  • Bandla (34), born in Guntur Andhra Pradesh, will be the second woman of Indian origin to go to space. The Telugu-born scientist grew up in Houston, Texas.
  • Bandla started her career at Galactic Virgo in 2015 as Head of Government Affairs and subsequently rose through the corporate ranks. She is now Vice President of Government Affairs for Virgin Galactic.
  • The aeronautical engineer was also part of the Washington operations management team for Virgin Orbit. The team recently launched a satellite into space using a 747 aircraft.
  • Bandla graduated in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University. She also holds an MBA from Georgetown University.
  • After completing her bachelor’s degree, Bandla worked for a space policy position at the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF).
  • Prior to joining CSF, she worked at L-3 Communications in Greenville, Texas, as an aerospace engineer, designing sophisticated aircraft components.
  • Bandla is currently a board member of the American Astronautical Society and the Future Space Leaders Foundation. She is also a member of the Young Professionals Advisory Council at Purdue University.

Photo credit: Associated Press

  • Bandla will be the fourth Indian to fly into space, and the second Indian to achieve the feat. She is predeceased by Rakesh Sharma, who was the first Indian to go into space, Kalpana Chawla, and Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams.
  • Sirisha Bandla is a distinguished member of the Telugu Association of North America (TANA), which is the oldest and largest Indo-American organization in North America. On Women’s Day 2014, Sirisha received the TANA Youth Star Award for achieving great milestones in her career.
  • Additionally, Bandla assists in the coordination of the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program, a mentoring program for students interested in a career in the commercial space technology industry.

Feature Image Credit: The New Indian Express

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