Sirisha Bandla, who is an India born Ameican engineer and the vice president of government affairs and research operations at Virgin Galactic, will go to space on a winged rocket ship of the company that will take off from New Mexico on July 11 with six people on board.
Bandla's role in the flight is "researcher experience" and she will be "Astronaut 004" on the spaceplane VSS Unity which will fly to the edge of space about three and a half times the speed of sound with five other companions.
In an interview with TOI Bandla called Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma (first Indian in space) as her huge influence, and said that she tells herself that it's something she could do because someone from her background and her culture has done it as well. She further added that she feels like she is taking a bit of India up there with her.
In another interview in the US, she said, "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 added.
Bandla studied aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering at Purdue University, and did an MBA (Masters of Business Association) at The George Washington University.
Here are five reasons why Sirisha Bandla's journey to space is so inspiring:
1. Sirisha Bandla, who was born in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh will be the second Indian woman to go to space after Kalpana Chawla.
2. Bandla, who lived most of her life in Houston, Texas, surrounded by NASA, developed her love for space at a very young age.
3. Being an astronaut was her childhood dream and since she was young, Bandla started looking at how people became astronauts and tried to model her career after them.
4. In an interview with TOI, Bandla said that she decided to go to space no matter what. She did not know when it was going to happen but she knew that she would make it there someday.
5. Bandla who dreams to "safely go where no tourist has gone before" believes that it was her grandparents and parents who have always encouraged and pushed her to keep chasing her dream.