Maharashtra-born Sanjal Gavande behind Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space rocket
Sanjal Gavande, a 30-year-old from Kalyan, Maharashtra, is part of the engineering team that built Blue Origin’s New Shephard suborbital space rocket that will take billionaire Jeff Bezos and three others into space more late this month.
A systems engineer in the commercial spaceflight company, Sanjal Gavande graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Mumbai. She moved to the United States in 2011 to pursue her Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University. “I am really happy that my childhood dream is about to come true. I am proud to be part of Team Blue Origin, ”Gavande told The Times of India.
Sanjal Gavande, the daughter of a municipal corporation employee and a retired MTNL civil servant, took aerospace as a subject for her master’s degree and passed it with a first class.
“She always wanted to build a spacecraft and that’s why she chose aerospace as a subject while pursuing her masters at Michigan University of Technology,” her father Ashok Gavande, who lives in the Kolsewadi region in Kalyan.
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Sanjal Gavande worked with Mercury Marine, the marine engine division of Brunswick Corporation, after completing his masters degree in Wisconsin. After working for three years at Mercury Marine, first as a design analysis intern and then as a design analysis engineer, she joined Toyota Racing Development as a mechanical design engineer.
Sanjal Gavande, who holds a commercial pilot’s license, applied for a position as a space engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) but was not selected on grounds of citizenship.
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“People told us it was a girl, so why did she choose mechanical engineering? I also sometimes wondered if she would be able to endure such hard work. She now makes us all proud. She dreamed of designing aerospace rockets and she made it happen, ”Surekha, her mother, told India Today.
“We just supported her and she did it all on her own,” her father said.
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She has been working with Blue Origin in Seattle as a Systems Engineer since April of this year. She has also served as part-time public relations president and chair of the board of directors of The Ninety-Nines, a non-profit educational organization.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will take off from West Texas on top of a New Shepard rocket for a 10-minute flight with his brother Mark, 82-year-old pioneer aviator Wally Funk and a Dutch teenager. According to Reuters, New Shepard is a 60-foot-tall, fully self-contained rocket and capsule combo that cannot be flown from inside the spacecraft. Bezos will become the second person to fly his own rocket into space, after nine-day Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson.