The sky was not the limit for Indian-American astronaut Sirisa Bandla, whose fantasies were continually rising into the galaxy. Bandla, a 34-year-old aeronautical engineer, boarded Virgin Galactic"s SpaceShipTwo Unity on Sunday, joining British billionaire Richard Branson and four passengers on a journey to the edge of space from the US state of New Mexico. "As a child, her attention was always fixed on the sky, stars, aircraft, and space."
Her interest eventually brought her into space, which is a remarkable accomplishment for her "Bandla Ragaiah, her paternal grandfather, stated. As a toddler, she was cared for by Ragaiah in Hyderabad (then in undivided AP) while her parents relocated to the United States. She also spent some time with her maternal grandparents in Chirala, Andhra Pradesh. "We are overjoyed that she was able to realise a long-held dream.
It's a great achievement and we are proud of her," Ragaiah told PTI over the phone on Monday. Sirisha, the first woman of Telugu origin to venture into space, left for the US at the age of four, along with her elder sister Pratyusha to join their parents. Her father Muralidhar is an agricultural scientist, like his father, and is now placed in the US Embassy in New Delhi. "We are very happy that the Virgin Galactic flight into space was successful.
What more can I say," he remarked. Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan and Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy congratulated Bandla on her accomplishment. "It was a historic journey by the first Telugu girl Sirisha and third Indian-origin woman to head to space," (after the late Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams), the Governor said in a message.
The Chief Minister, in a statement, said it was a proud moment for the state as the Guntur-born Bandla flew on the spaceflight. The trajectory of the 34-year-old aeronautical engineer has been amazing and reached great heights, he said and hoped it would propel her to higher orbits. Bandla had described her experience as "incredible" and "life-changing." "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 boosts the rocket motor kick in. The whole trip to space and back is just amazing", Bandla told NBC News in an interview. Bandla described the moment as emotional and said, "I have been dreaming of going to space since I was young and literally it is a dream come true," she said.