Telugu woman in 6-member crew of Virgin Group’s test rocket flight

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Hyderabad: In a rare instance of pride, a Telugu woman is all set to take a journey to outer space as Virgin Group’s space mission is to take off in less than ten days.

The company is launching Virgin Galactic, test spaceflight on July 11 in which Guntur-born Sirisha Bandla is a part of a six-member crew. Sirisha is to create history as she becomes the second Indian-born woman to go into space after Kalpana Chawla, who died in the tragic Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

Sirisha has been working for Virgin Galactic since 2015 as a government affairs manager and has risen through the ranks since then. She has also been handling Washington operations for Virgin Orbit which recently sent out a satellite in space using a 747 plane.

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Born in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, Sirisha grew up in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Purdue University and has a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University..

Sirisha has also been closely associated with the Telugu Association of North America (TANA), which is the oldest and biggest Indo-American organization in North America.

VP Sirisha Bandla with the founder, Branson is being accompanied by mission specialists of Virgin Galactic, which includes chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett. Pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci will fly the VSS Unity spacecraft.

The company also announced on Thursday evening that its next test flight will be on July 11. The winged rocket ship will take off from New Mexico and the first carrying a full crew of company employees. It will be only the fourth trip to space for Virgin Galactic.

Amazon, Virgin and SpaceX are now in a tight race to outcompete each other when it comes to commercial space operations. While Bezos and Branson head out, Elon Musk has been working on plans to send people to Mars with his Starship project.