Bandla reaches space on board VSS Unity 22
Sirisha Bandla vaulted into space on July 11 on board VSS ...
Sirisha Bandla vaulted into space on July 11 on board VSS Unity 22, becoming the fourth astronaut of Indian descent in the U.S. The Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft reached the 100-km altitude that marks the entry into space after taking off from Spaceport America in New Mexico and returned to the base after a flight of about 90 minutes. Astronaut 004 Bandla, accompanied by Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and two other crewmates and two pilots touched the space mark. Before the flight Branson signed himself dramatically as Astronaut 001 and gave the Astronaut 004 rank to Bandla, 34. During the space flight, Bandla was scheduled to conduct experiments designed by the US government’s pioneer space agency, NASA involving plants in microgravity. Bandla, the Virgin Galactic Vice President for Government Relations, is an astronautical engineer by training.
Before her flight, she said in an interview on a Virgin Galactic broadcast that her adventure was an “incredible opportunity to get people from different backgrounds, different geographies and different communities into space.” The others on the VSS Unity flight were Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor and Colin Bennett, the lead operations engineer which was piloted by former Royal Air Force test pilot Dave Mackay and former NASA Space Shuttle Commander Michael Masucci.