Sirisha Bandla
Learn More

Sirisha Bandla

BS aeronautical and astronautical engineering ’11
Born: 1987
Mission: Virgin Galactic Unity 22

Sirisha Bandla is the vice president of government affairs and research operations at Virgin Galactic. She was part of the first-ever fully crewed commercial spaceflight on July 11, 2021, joining Sir Richard Branson and fellow Purdue AAE alum Beth Moses on Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 mission. 

Growing up in Houston, Bandla became fascinated with astronauts like Neil Armstrong and the NASA engineers at nearby Johnson Space Center who helped those astronauts reach the moon. She decided she wanted to become an astronaut and engineer, too, and applied to only one university – Purdue – because of its close connection to the space program. 

During the Unity 22 flight, Bandla tested out Virgin Galactic’s cabin experience and conducted a zero-G experiment from the University of Florida to evaluate future human-tended research experiences. Bandla’s presence on Unity 22 made her the third Indian woman to go to space. She was Purdue’s second commercial astronaut, following Moses, who made her first journey to suborbital space in 2019.