Sirisha Bandla, Indian-born woman and Virgin Galactic executive, flies into space with Richard Branson – .

Sirisha Bandla, Indian-born woman and Virgin Galactic executive, flies into space with Richard Branson – .

Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs and research operations at Galactic Virgo (SPCE), roared in the New Mexico skies early Sunday with Branson and two other employees, Beth Moses and Colin Bennett.

In 2003, Chawla became the first woman born in India to travel to space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. The seven astronauts on this shuttle were killed when they attempted to enter Earth’s atmosphere.

Bandla was born in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and started working at Virgin Galactic in 2015, the CNN News 18 affiliate reported. The company did not immediately respond. to an email from CNN Business.

Her theft has sparked enthusiasm among many famous Indians, including the country’s Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, who tweeted that she would be a role model for girls around the world.
Billionaire and Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra also praised Bandla for Twitter (TWTR), and said her leak is a sign Indian women are “breaking glass ceilings” everywhere.

Over the past decade, India’s foray into space exploration has been marked by low-budget but ambitious missions. India has picked up its pace as it tries to compete with other Asian countries, pursuing important lunar missions.

Branson’s Joy Ride

On Sunday, Branson became the first person to travel to space aboard a rocket he helped fund. Before dawn, he boarded the SpaceShipTwo with his crew, a winged aircraft with a single rocket engine that his company, Virgin Galactic, spent nearly two decades developing.

This theft, which took place just nine days before Amazone (AMZN) Billionaire Jeff Bezos set to soar into suborbital space aboard his own company’s spacecraft is a historic moment for the commercial space industry. The burgeoning industry has for years sought to make suborbital space tourism (a relatively straightforward top-to-bottom flight, as opposed to orbiting the Earth for longer periods of time) a viable business with the aim of enabling thousands of people to experience the adrenaline rush and panoramic views of our home planet that such flights can offer.

Branson and Bezos are well positioned to become direct competitors in this industry, each offering tickets to wealthy customers for short trips into the upper atmosphere aboard rocket-propelled supersonic spacecraft.

Virgin Galactic plans to complete one additional test flight before it starts flying paying customers. Over 600 people have booked tickets priced from $ 200,000 to $ 250,000 to date. The company is expected to reopen ticket sales soon, but at a higher price.

– Jackie Wattles contributed to this report.


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