Sanjal Gavande: The Indian Engineer behind Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin New Shephard

Sanjal Gavande, a 30-year-old engineer from India’s Maharastra, has been a part of the suborbital space rocket, New Shephard by Blue Origin.    

Sanjal worked for Mercury Marine in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin and Toyota Racing Development in Orange City, California, before joining Blue Origin as a mechanical engineer to pursue her dream of building a spacecraft.   

“I am really happy that my childhood dream is about to come true,” Sanjal was quoted as saying. “I am proud to be a part of Team Blue Origin.”   

A systems engineer at the commercial space rocket company, Sanjal studied mechanical engineering at the University of Mumbai. In 2011, she went to the US to pursue her master’s degree in the same field from Michigan Technological University. During that time, she chose to specialise in aerospace and cleared her master’s with a first-class.   

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 Sanjal’s parents were quoted as stating, “Our daughter has been into space, and we are proud that from making car engines, she has graduated to rockets.”    

“People told us that she is a girl, so why has she opted for mechanical engineering?” her mother Surekha, a retired MTNL employee, told India Today. “Sometimes, I also wondered whether she would be able to handle such hard work. She has now made us all proud.”    

Sanjal, the commercial Pilot’s license holder, tried her luck by applying for a space engineering job at NASA, but she got rejected, citing citizenship-related issues.   

However, when her application to join Blue Origin was approved, Sanjal’s dream came true, said her mother. “She had a dream of design aerospace rockets and she has achieved it.”   

 “We just supported her, and she achieved everything on her own,” Sanjal’s father, Ashok, a retired Kalyan-Dombivli municipal corporation officer, said.   

Since April 2021, Sanjal has been working as a systems engineer with Blue Origin in Seattle. She has also chaired the Ninety-Nines board, a non-profit educational organisation and a local chapter of the International Organisation of Women Pilots.   

This year, she bagged the Pilot of the Year award from the chapter of Ninety-Nines.   

The 60-foot-tall New Shephard spacecraft, accommodating billionaire Jeff Bezos and three others, is scheduled to launch on July 20 at 8 am GMT from West Texas.  

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