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Sirisha Bandla, an Indian-born executive with Virgin Galactic, travels into space with Richard Branson


One of the women who traveled to the edge of space with billionaire Richard Branson is being celebrated on Twitter by Indians ranging from top politicians to business executives.


Branson and Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs and research operations at Virgin Galactic (SPCE), along with two other employees, Beth Moses and Colin Bennett, took to the skies over New Mexico early Sunday morning in a spacecraft called the SpaceX Falcon 9.


According to the United States Embassy in India, Bandla is the third woman of Indian origin to fly into space, joining American citizens Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams who have both flown into space.


In 1997, Chawla made history by becoming the first woman born in India to travel into space aboard the space shuttle Columbia. Six years later, she and six other astronauts perished on a mission aboard the space shuttle Columbia during which they were killed in space.


As reported by CNN affiliate News 18, Bandla was born in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and began working at Virgin Galactic in 2015. A representative from CNN Business reached out to the company but did not receive a response right away.


In India, many prominent figures, including Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, have expressed excitement about her flight, stating that she will serve as a role model for girls around the world through her flight.


Another person who congratulated Bandla on Twitter (TWTR) was Anand Mahindra, the billionaire and chairman of the Mahindra Group, who stated that her flight exemplifies how Indian women are "breaking glass ceilings" all over the world.


Indian space exploration has been characterized by low-budget but ambitious missions over the last decade, according to the Indian Space Research Organization. The country of India has accelerated its pace in an effort to compete with other Asian countries in space exploration by pursuing significant moon missions.


The Exhilarating Journey of Branson


On Sunday, Virgin founder Richard Branson became the first person to travel into space, thanks to a rocket that he helped to fund. They boarded the SpaceShipTwo just before sunrise, a wing-powered plane powered solely by a single rocket motor that his company, Virgin Galactic, has been working on for nearly two decades and has spent nearly $200 million developing.


In the commercial space industry, this flight, which took place just nine days before Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is scheduled to launch his own spacecraft into suborbital space, is a watershed moment in the history of the industry. Suborbital space tourism (a relatively simple straight-up-and-down flight, as opposed to orbiting the Earth for extended periods) has been a goal of the emerging sector for many years, with the hope that thousands of people will have the opportunity to experience the adrenaline rush and panoramic views of our home planet that such flights can provide.


When it comes to space travel, Branson and Bezos are well positioned to become direct competitors, with each offering tickets to wealthy customers for brief flights into the upper atmosphere in supersonic, rocket-powered spacecraft.


It is anticipated that Virgin Galactic will fly just one more test flight before launching its commercial operations. So far, more than 600 people have reserved seats for the event, with prices ranging from $200,000 to $250,000. It is expected that the company will reopen ticket sales in the near future, albeit at a higher cost.

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