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Rejected By NASA, Kalyan’s Sanjal Gavande Helped Build Jeff Bezos’ Space Rocket

Among the people who helped build New Shephard, Blue Origin’s unmanned suborbital rocket, is a young engineer from Maharashtra’s Kalyan: Sanjal Gavande.

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On July 20, 2021, space venture ‘Blue Origin’ will launch its first crewed spaceflight from the company’s ‘Launch Site One’ in Texas via its ‘New Shepard’ rocket and capsule.

A milestone mission for the space tourism company, the flight will be carrying the billionaire founder of Amazon and Blue Origin – Jeff Bezos.

Indians will be interested to know that among the people who helped build New Shephard (an unmanned suborbital rocket) is a young engineer from Maharashtra’s Kalyan: Sanjal Gavande.

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“I am really happy that my childhood dream is about to come true,” 30-year-old Sanjal, a systems engineer at Blue Origin, told the Times of India.

Here are five facts you need to know about Sanjal Gawande:

1. Sanjal is the daughter of Ashok Gawande, a retired employee of the Kalyan-Dombivli municipal corporation. Her mother Surekha is a retired MTNL employee and the family lives in the Kolsewadi locality of Kalyan. She studied till Class 10 in Model High School and did her high secondary education from Birla College.

2. After completing her Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Mumbai, Sanjal headed to Michigan Technological University in USA to pursue her Masters. It was here that she opted for aerospace as a subject in her Masters curriculum.

“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 design aerospace rockets and she has achieved it,” Surekha, Sanjal’s mother, told India Today.

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3. After finishing her Masters, Sanjal worked with Mercury Marine in Wisconsin and Toyota Racing Development at Orange City in California.

On the weekends, she started taking flying lessons to chase her space dreams. Her efforts paid off when she earned a commercial pilot’s license in 2016.

4. She then applied for a space engineering job at NASA. But due to citizenship issues, she was not selected.

5. Undeterred, she applied for a job at Blue Origin in Seattle and cleared the interview for a systems engineer. She was later selected for the project that built the New Shepard rocket.

“She even got a commercial pilot’s license in the US. We just supported her and she achieved everything on her own,” say her proud parents.

Cover image source: Facebook/Sanjal Gavande

(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)

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