Branson carries Bandla on shoulders after successful space trip

San Francisco, July 12 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla on Sunday touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic’s billionaire CEO Richard Branson.
Bandla vaulted into space on Sunday on board VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
“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,” Bandla was quoted as saying to NBC News.
Astronaut 004 Bandla, accompanied by Branson and two other crewmates and two pilots touched the edge of the space in the 90 minute trip.
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.
“I am so incredibly honored 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,” Bandla said in a tweet last week.
Bandla became the fourth astronaut of Indian descent.
She is the third Indian American in space after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Pandya Williams and the fourth person of Indian descent — the first being Rakesh Sharma, who flew on a Soviet spacecraft.
Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan and Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy hailed Bandla’s space flight.
“It was a proud moment for the state as the Guntur-born Bandla flew on Virgin Galactic space flight,” said Reddy on Sunday night.
He said the trajectory of the 34-year-old aeronautical engineer has been amazing and reached great heights.
Harichandan wished her all success. “I wish her all success, who (Bandla) is the first Telugu girl and third Indian origin woman to head to space,” said the Governor.

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