Sirisha Bandla goes to space: ‘Always wanted to explore sky, stars’

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When enterprise magnate Richard Branson fulfilled his previous dream of flying to house on Sunday, among the many 5 individuals who accompanied him on the “magical” journey was a 33-year-old girl with roots in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur.

Sirisha Bandla, vice chairman of presidency affairs and analysis operations at Branson’s Virgin Galactic, turned the third girl of Indian origin — after NASA astronauts Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams — to fly to house.

“From a very young age she had this ambition to explore the sky, the moon, and the stars. Sirisha had set her eyes on space, and I am not at all surprised that she is all set to realise her dream,” Sirisha’s grandfather Dr Bandla Nagaiah instructed The Indian Express earlier than the flight commenced on Sunday.

“After listening to the information that she was a part of the workforce to go into house, I known as her. She was driving however nonetheless answered the decision. When I congratulated her, she mentioned sure, lastly it’s taking place, and mentioned ‘thank you, thata (grandfather)’,’’ Dr Nagaiah mentioned.

Branson, Sirisha, and 4 others — pilots David Mackay and Michael Masucci, Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut teacher Beth Moses, and lead operations engineer Colin Bennett — travelled to the sting of house earlier than returning to earth aboard the Galactic Unity 22 spacecraft.

Billionaire Richard Branson floats in zero gravity on board Virgin Galactic’s passenger rocket airplane VSS Unity after reaching the sting of house above Spaceport America close to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, U.S. July 11, 2021. (Reuters)

“She visited Guntur last November, and as usual she was full of energy and bubbling with ideas. She did not talk about going to space when she visited last time but she did mention that she was doing very significant work. She is very decisive and has very good leadership qualities,” Nagaiah, who retired as an agriculture scientist from Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, mentioned.

Sirisha was born in Chirala in her maternal grandmother’s dwelling. The household then moved to Tenali in Guntur. Till the age of 5, Sirisha hung out between Hyderabad the place Nagaiah lived, and Tenali at her grandmother’s home.

Aeronautical engineer Sirisha Bandla on Sunday turned the third Indian-origin girl to fly into house when she joined British billionaire Richard Branson on Virgin Galactic’s first totally crewed suborbital check flight from New Mexico. (Via Reuters)

Thereafter, she travelled to Houston to be part of her mother and father within the United States. Sirisha’s mother and father, who’re US authorities workers, are at the moment posted in India.

Sirisha and her elder sister are very affectionate, and have at all times stayed in contact with their grandparents, Nagaiah mentioned. All that they had to do was name on their cellphone and depart a message, and the sisters would name again with out fail, he mentioned.

“For several years, they used to visit India almost every year, sometimes twice. In Houston, Sirisha was attracted to the activities and news of NASA’s space exploration. She was keen on aeronautics and aerospace since she was very young. I knew that she was destined to do great things,” he mentioned.

“When she was a toddler, she used to ask a number of questions on aeroplanes, the sky, house journey and so forth. She used to write down her ideas and concepts about sky and house, which I now suppose have been paperwork of what she wanted to do sooner or later,’’ Nagaiah mentioned.

Virgin Galactic’s passenger rocket airplane VSS Unity, carrying billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and his crew, descends after reaching the sting of house above Spaceport America close to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, U.S., July 11, 2021. (Reuters)

“I’m recovering from Covid-19, however I’m so comfortable and proud to discuss my granddaughter. She is making everybody proud. It is one factor to dream about going to house however to truly obtain it requires a number of dedication and perseverance and she or he has that in lots.’’

Nagaiah mentioned Sirisha did her Bachelor’s in aerospace aeronautical engineering from Purdue University, and later did a Masters in Business Administration from George Washington University.

“When she returns with the feather of space travel in her cap, I will have a wonderful chat with her,” Nagaiah mentioned.

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