Sanjal Gavande, who was once rejected by NASA, is now part of the team which built the spacecraft that is flying Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to space on July 20.
Thirty-year-old Sanjal Gavande, who is originally from Kalyan near Mumbai in Maharashtra, works for Blue Origin, the space company promoted by Bezos and has been part of the team that built the New Shepard (unmanned sub orbital rocket).
Gavande’s father retired from the Kalyan-Dombivli municipal corporation and her mother worked with MTNL. The Gavandes live in the Kolsewadi locality of Kalyan.
After finishing schooling from Model High School, she joined Birla College for her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Gavande joined Michigan Technological University in the US for her Master’s in engineering degree. She chose aerospace as a subject in her curriculum as she dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
After completing her post-graduation degree, Gavande worked with Mercury Marine for four years till December 2016 as a design analysis engineer before moving to Toyota Racing Development in California as a mechanical design engineer.
Gavande got a commercial pilot’s license in 2016 after she started taking flying lessons. She then applied for a space engineering job at NASA, but was rejected due to citizenship-related matters.
Gavande was honoured with the pilot of the year award in 2021 from Orange County, California chapter of Ninety-Nines (local chapter of the International Organization of Women Pilots).
In April 2021, Gavande was selected by Blue Origin (Seattle) for a systems engineer vacancy. Subsequently, she got selected for the Blue Shepard project.