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Shirsha Bandla

Shirsha Bandla

Shirsha Bandla is a 34-year-old, Indian-origin woman who is the third woman to fly in space. She was a crew member of the fully crewed suborbital test flight. It was Virgin Galactic's flight that flew from New Mexico with Ricard Branson along with five other members that included Shirsha Bandla. She is an aeronautical engineer, commercial astronaut, and Vice-President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at the Virgin Galactic. Her flight on Unity22 on July 11, 2021, made her popular across the World.

Born: 1987 (Guntur, Andhra Pradesh)

Early Life

Shirsha Bandla was born in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, and was brought up in Houston, Texas, United States. She is the daughter of Muralidhar Bandla and Anuradha Bandla. Her family also includes her sister. Before that, she lived in Tenali and Hyderabad with her parents and Grandparents. As a kid, she always aspired to become an astronaut. Therefore, she persuaded her dreams and became an astronaut.


Shirsha obtained her graduation degree from Purdue University. The graduation stream was a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering. After this, she went on to pursue a Master's degree from George Washington University, where she obtained a Master's in Business Administration.


As a kid, Bandla dreamt of becoming an astronaut. Therefore, she pursued her dreams and did a bachelor's in aeronautical engineering. However, she didn't get selected as a NASA astronaut due to not meeting the medical test criteria of eyesight. Afterward, she came to know about the commercial astronauts. Commercial Spaceflight Federation is the organization where she worked as an aerospace engineer. She then started the Mathew Isakowitz Fellowship to honor Mathew Isakowitz.

In 2015, Shirsha joined Virgin Galactic, where she became Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations. She then flew on Unity22 with Richard Branson, a British billionaire, on July 11, 2021.

Unity22: Flight Experience

The journey in Unity22 started from New Mexico, and the crew covered about 88 kilometers altitude on the desert in Mexico from where they could see the curvature of the Earth. Shirsha found that the experience in the space was incredible and life-changing. The crew experienced weightlessness for a few seconds before descending back to Earth.

Achievements and Awards

  • She received the 'Youth Star Award' from the Telugu Association of North America (TANA).
  • American Astronautical Society and Future Space Leaders Foundation, member of the board of directors.
  • Young Professional Advisory Council, Purdue University, member.
  • Co-founder of Mathew Isakowitz Fellowship Program.

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