Vijayawada: Thirty-year-old Sirisha Bandla is all set to become the first Telugu-origin woman to go to space in Virgin Galactic's next test spaceflight on 11 July. Sirisha whose roots are in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh will accompany the company's founder Richard Branson as a key member of the crew in the journey.

Aiming to beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos into space, Branson's company announced the launch of its fourth test flight to space. The winged rocket ship will soar from New Mexico and will be the first flight carrying a full crew of company employees.

Branson will be accompanied by mission specialists of Virgin Galactic, including chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett, and government affairs VP Sirisha Bandla. Pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci will fly the VSS Unity spacecraft.

Sirisha Bandla was born in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh, and grew up in Houston, Texas. Her zeal to learn more about space inspired her to pursue a bachelor's degree in aeronautical-astronautical engineering from Purdue. She also holds an MBA from George Washington University.

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