Meet Sanjal Gandavle, the Indian engineer who is part of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ spaceship Blue Origin’s team

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After Sirisha Bandla became the second India-born woman to fly into space as part of the six-member crew alongside the founder of Virgin Galactic Richard Branson, now a resident of Kalyan in Maharashtra Sanjal Gavande is another woman involved in Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space flight.

Thirty-year-old Sanjal Gavande is part of the team that built the rocket system New Shepard for Bezos’s space exploration company Blue Origin that is set to fly into space along with a crew on July 20. 

Sanjal is the daughter of a municipal corporation employee and lives in Kolsewadi locality in Kalyan. She completed her mechanical engineering degree from the University of Mumbai and then went to Michigan Technologic University in the US to pursue her Masters, where she opted for aerospace as a subject in her curriculum.

She is a licensed commercial pilot and has been awarded as the Pilot of the Year 2021 by the Orange County, California chapter of Ninety-Nines, a local chapter of the International Organization of Women Pilots. 

“She always wanted to build a spaceship and that is the reason she chose aerospace as a subject while pursuing her Masters degree at Michigan Technological University. She worked with Mercury Marine after finishing her Masters at Wisconsin. Then she went to work with Toyota racing development at Orange City in California,” her father Ashok Gavande was quoted as saying by India Today.

Sanjal’s mother Surekha said, “She was a silent girl since childhood and good in studies. She was also good in drawing and won many accolades, which helped her in mechanical design when she chose mechanical engineering.”

“People told us that she is a girl and why has she opted for mechanical engineering? I also thought sometimes about whether she would be able to handle such hard work. She has now made us all proud. She had a dream of design aerospace rockets and she has achieved it,” she added.

New Shephard will take Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos to space on July 20. Other crew members include auction winner Oliver Daeman and the honoured guest Wally Funk, an 82-year-old legendary pilot and icon for women.

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