The Indian-born Sirisha Bandla came on board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity on Sunday. She joined British billionaire Richard Branson and four others.
The crew of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity reached up to the height of 88 kilometres over the New Mexico desert which is a height enough to see the curvature of the earth and glided down back to the planet. The crew on board the spaceship experienced a few minutes of weightlessness of space.
Bandla told the NBC News in an interview, “I am kind of still up there but it’s so glad to be here. I was trying to think about a better word than incredible but that is the only word that can come to my mind… Seeing the view of Earth is so life-changing but also the boost the rocket motor kicking in. The whole trip to space and back is just amazing.”
She also expressed her emotions and said, “I have been dreaming of going to space since I was young and literally it is a dream come true.”
Sirisha Bandla added that even though she wanted to become an astronaut, she wasn’t able to go in the traditional National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) role. She said that she really took an unconventional route to go to space and she believes that there are a lot of people who are going to be able to experience this.
The 34-year-old aeronautical engineer, Indian-origin Sirisha Bandla moved to the US when she was 4. After Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams, Sirisha Bandla is the third Indian-origin woman to fly into space. To date, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma is the only Indian citizen to have travelled in space. He flew aboard Soyuz T-11 on April 3, 1984, part of the Soviet Interkosmos programme.
Virgin Galactic is a company that aims to fly private citizens to the edge of space. The passengers experience a few minutes of weightlessness at the edge of the earth and then glide back on the trip.