Ragaiah Bandla, grandfather of India-born American astronaut Sirisha Bandla, expressed his happiness over the news of his granddaughter’s voyage to space along with Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson. He said Bandla is strong and determined and has always been fascinated with the sky.
“I’m very happy. From the beginning, she was very fascinated with the sky. Now she’s going to space with 5 other members. She is very brave and very strong in her decision,” her grandfather told news agency ANI.
“I, along with my friends and relatives, wish her a successful and happy return to the land after completion of her journey,” he added.
Bandla, born in Andhra Pradesh and raised in Texas, will be one of the six space travellers aboard ‘VSS Unity’, scheduled to take off on July 11 from New Mexico. This will make her the second India-born woman, after Kalpana Chawla to travel to space.
Bandla presently serves as the vice president of government affairs at Virgin Galactic and she studied at Indiana’s Purdue University’s school of aeronautics and astronautics. The 34-year-old took to microblogging site Twitter to announce her journey to space.
“I am so incredibly honoured to be a part of the amazing crew of Unity22, and to be a part of a company whose mission is to make space available to all,” she tweeted.
The upcoming trip will be Virgin Galactic’s fourth flight to space with crew members. Bandla will be joined on this suborbital flight by Beth Moses, the company’s chief astronaut instructor, who has flown previously; Colin Bennett, an operations engineer.
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