Sirisha Bandla – Another Indian Signature to the Space History

“You were born with wings. Don’t Crawl. Learn to use them to fly and fly”. These famous words by Dr. Abdul Kalam are apt for the life of Sirisha Bandla. She is an Indian-American commercial astronaut and aeronautical engineer, who recently made a milestone in the Indian Space History. She had joined with the British billionaire Sir Richard Branson and five others on Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship to make a journey to the space from New Mexico, US. This achievement made her the second Indian-born woman to go to space and the fourth Indian ever to go to the space after Rakesh Sharma, Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams, another Indian signature to the space history.

Sirisha Bandla

Early Life and Education

Sirisha was born in Guntur, a district in Andhra Pradesh, India. At the age of 4, her dreams got wings when her father Muralidhar Bandla, who was an agriculture scientist, migrated to the Houston, US and their many field visits to the Johnson Space Centre, a research institute of NASA in Houston proved to be an incentive for Sirisha’s love for space and astronomy.

In 2011, she completed her graduation in Aerospace and Astronautical Engineering from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University, which is an alma mater to many astronauts like Neil Armstrong, Gus Grissom, Gene Cernan, Mary Ellen Weber and many other renowned persons. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University in 2015.

Sirisha at the age of four


Sirisha always dreamt of becoming an astronaut at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) but due to her poor eyesight could not meet the eligibility to become an astronaut or pilot for NASA. When she was at Purdue University, a professor told her about commercial spaceflights and it’s opportunities.

She worked at L-3 Communications in Greenville, Texas as an engineer after her studies and in 2015, she joined Virgin Galactic, where she started working as the Vice President of Government Affairs.

Then she worked as an aerospace engineer for the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, an association of commercial spaceflight companies, with Mathew Isakowitz. In his honor, she later co-founded Mathew Isakowitz Fellowship, a fellowship awarded to exceptional students who want to pursue their careers in the field of commercial spaceflight industries and to built their future. Currently, she serves as a member of the board of directors of the American Astronautical Society and Future Space Leaders Foundation.

Mathew Isakowitz

Latest Achievement

Sirisha now became another woman of Indian origin to fly to space after NASA astronauts Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams. She will be one among the five people with Virgin Galactic’s founder Sir Richard Branson to travel to space in the company’s spaceflight Unity 22 on July 11.

According to the official reports, Sirisha, the ‘Astronaut 004’,would be evaluating the human-tended research experience, using an experiment from the University of Florida that requires several handheld fixation tubes that would be activated at various points in the flight profile. The main aim of Virgin Galactic is to make fly the private citizens to the space. Their trips are designed to permit passengers to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and observe the curvature of the Earth.

Sirisha with the crew of Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22

Sirisha’s life serves as a best example to the girls to fulfill their dreams without any boundaries and ‘fly’ as high as possible.


  1. Meet Sirisha Bandla, the second Indian-born woman to fly to space, Economic Times New.
  2. Sirisha Bandla: India celebrates woman who flew on Virgin Galactic, BBC News.
  3. Sirisha Bandla, the special child who always wanted to touch the sky; Hindustan Times.
  4. Mathew Isakowitz Fellowship, American Astronautical Society.

Also Read: Dr. Kamala Sohonie: First female scholar of IIsc Bangalore

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