When we think of success and diversity, women have been an ideal inspiration in every possible field. Such is the story of Sanjal Gavande, a 30-year old systems engineer, who is one of those extraordinary women who achieved her dream of contributing her part to space tourism. She helped build the world’s first unpiloted suborbital rocket, New Shepard, an 18.3 meters tall fully autonomous rocket and capsule combo. It is the first crewed flight that will launch from the company’s ‘Launch Site One’ in Texas and will be attended by Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon and Blue Origin.
In one of her interviews with Times of India, Sanjal told that it was her dream come true to be a part of the Blue Origin team (her current space venture) responsible for the launch of this space flight. She did her Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and further headed to Michigan Technological University in the USA, and opted for aerospace as one of the subjects in her masters.
Sanjal started her career with Mercury Marine in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin and after two years she shifted to Toyota Racing Development in Orange City, California. Her keen sight for designing aerospace rockets paid off when she grabbed the commercial pilot’s license in 2016. Later she applied to NASA as a space engineer but was rejected due to citizenship issues. Sanjal’s dedication never got down, as she grabbed a seat in Blue Origin as a Systems engineer in April 2021 and got selected for the Shepard rocket project.
Being a female, Sanjal and her family had to face the stereotypes, but her hard work and family’s constant support broke the conservative society’s shell and made her way. Surekha, Sanjal’s mother said, “People told us that she is a girl, so 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 designing aerospace rockets and she has achieved it.”
Sanjal received the Pilot of the Year award in 2021 from the Orange Country, California chapter of Ninety-Nines, a local chapter of the International Organization of Women Pilots. Sanjal Gavande’s success story is an inspiration to all those aspiring young girls who are also hit by the stereotypical society.