Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Sirisha, Branson first in space tourism

Branson carrying Sirisha on his shoulder celebrating their space visit

  • They make a successful trip and history
  • Brabsib second septuagenarian to go to space
  • Sirisha second Indian woman to do it

Sirisha Bandla has made it. The young woman hailing from Guntur, and settled down in Houston, visited the space and returned safely with her boss Richard Branson of Galactic space, the agency which intends to take tourists to the space from next year. Swashbuckling entrepreneur Branson hurtled into space in his very own spaceship built over 17 years. He has beaten the fellow billionaire, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos by nine days.  Bezos is scheduled to go to space on the 20th.

Sirisha Badla, 34, is the second Indian woman to go to space and the fourth Indian origin person. Rakesh Sharma was the first Indian to visit space followed by Kalpana Chawla who could not survive the trip. The third person was Indian American Suneeta Williams. Richard Branson is the second septuagenarian to blast off to space after astronaut John Glenn who flew on the shuttle in 1998 when he was 77. About 500 people, including Branson’s family members and the chief of SpaceX, Elan Musk, watched the event.

Sirisha and the team

Soon after landing, Branson congratulated all those who worked for 17 years to build the spaceship. He said it was a wonderful experience and a moment to cherish for rest of his life.  A grand showman he is, Branson had invited  celebrities and former astronauts  to Spaceport America built in an area of 27,000 square miles in New Mexico. The first astronaut Elon Shephard took fifteen minutes to go to space and this group also was there in space for a short time of 15 minutes.

The space shuttle earlier used to be carried into space by rockets. Branson’s company has built a huge mother ship that carries the space ship with a rocket chip that is blasted when the aircraft is on the threshold of space. According to NASA (National Astronautics and Space Administration) anything beyond 80 km above the ground level is space. Unity-22 went up to 86 kms over New Mexico desert and gave a feeling of weightlessness to the six persons and gave them an opportunity to see the earth from there and slide back safely to the earth atmosphere and then landed at the spaceport.

Richard Branson before the take off

Branson made it a hurried way after Bezos announced that he would ride his own rocket into space from Texas on July 20 which marked the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Branson, however, denied that he was trying to outdo Bezos. Another rich man who was planning commercial travels to space, Elon Musk of SaceX, conveyed his good wishes before Branson took off.  The spaceship traveled for 40 minutes climbing upto the altitude of 13 kms when the space ship Unity-22 disengaged from the Eve aircraft, the mother ship, and got its wings. The rocket in the spaceship was fired and it gained a speed of four thousand km. Bezos’ Blue Origin company plans to send tourists past the Karman line, 100 km above the earth, which is recognized by international aviation and aerospace federations as the threshold of space. However, NASA, the American Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration and some astrophysics insist that the boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and space begins at 80 km.

The world looks forward to Bezos’ space travel on the 20th. Two brave billionaires are making space history. It was unthinkable a few years ago.

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor


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