And Indians are happy about this new milestone as one of their own has also made it out to the edge of space along with the British billionaire Richard Branson via the Virgin Galactic rocket plane VSS Unity.
Bandla is the vice president of government affairs at the company and is the second woman born in India to go to space after Kalpana Chawla who died during the Columbia Space Shuttle crashed at re-entry back in 2003.
But the good news for Bandla and other aspiring Indian women was the fact that the Unity space plane made it back in one piece after boarding the space plane along with Branson and other members from the company which is poised at making space tourism available for people across the globe.
The trip has been dubbed “experience of a lifetime” by Richard Branson himself via a post he made on Virgin’s website where he made it known that he had always aspire to reach such a high ground.
The trip has made Branson the first of the new space tourism pioneers to try out their own space vehicles as well as beating Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos and SpaceX’s Elon Musk to reaching the milestone. Bezos on the other will make his own short trip into space later on this month.
Her grandfather told Reuters that “from the beginning, she was fascinated towards the sky, looking at the sky, space, how to enter space and what is there”.
And she had made it known via a tweet earlier this month that she will be part of the crew members on the VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane.
Her presence on the historic trip has stirred a lot of excitement in India, especially in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh where she was born in Guntur district. Soon after the rocket’s return, Indians started sending her congratulatory messages on social media.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu tweeted that “her achievement will motivate many more young girls in India and abroad to take up challenging careers”:
Glad to know that Sirisha Bandla became the second India-born woman to fly into space. Her achievement will motivate many more young girls in India & abroad to take up challenging careers. Heartiest congratulations to Sirisha Bandla, her parents and mentors! pic.twitter.com/ncGPiH07i9— Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat) July 11, 2021
Industrial Anand Mahindra wrote that “Indian women are not just breaking glass ceilings – they’re literally dismantling ALL ceilings on this planet and rocketing into space”:
Indian women are not just breaking glass ceilings—they’re literally dismantling ALL ceilings on this planet and rocketing into space. Keep flying high @SirishaBandla . You went from Guntur to Zero-Gravity. https://t.co/7ZYJSkRerp— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) July 12, 2021
MP Priyanka Chaturvedi congratulated Ms Bandla saying she was “rocking it totally and in style”:
Sirisha Bandla, Astronaut 004, an Indian-American crew member with Sir Branson celebrating their @virgingalactic flight to space.— Priyanka Chaturvedi?? (@priyankac19) July 11, 2021
Rocking it totally& in style, congratulations Sirisha! pic.twitter.com/5bzGzIhQjK
The rocket plane, known as Unity reached a height of 85km (282,000ft; 53 miles) above Earth which based on NASA and US military line drawing can be classified as space – after all, this is a tourist visit not some extreme search for an alien life.
Sir Richard was accompanied by pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci and three Galactic employees, including Beth Moses, Colin Bennett and Ms Bandla.
“I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space,” he said in a press conference following the flight. “The whole thing was just magical.”
The intention to go to space has been a life-long ambition for Richard Branson who had announced as early as 2004 to make planes that can go to space and has hoped that he’ll be able to commercialize the service as soon as 2007 however, fatal crash during and technical difficulties has caused a long delay to reaching this goal.