Indians celebrated when an India-born woman Sirisha Bandla travelled to the edge of space on July 11. However, Bandla is not the only person that defines Indian women’s courage to make it to space. Sanjal Gavande, a 30-year old born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, is another addition to the list of courageous Indian women who made it to the space industry. A systems engineer at commercial spaceflight company Blue Origin, Gavande is one of the people who built the suborbital space rocket New Shephard that will take the company’s crew to space. The crew will also include Jeff Bezos, founder-chairman of Amazon, who also founded Blue Origin in 2002.
“I am really happy that my childhood dream is about to come true,” Gavande told the Times of India. She said that she was really happy to be a part of the team at Blue Origin.
Having done her Bachelor degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, Gavande went to the United States in 2011 to pursue her master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University. During her masters, she took aerospace as a subject. A licensed commercial pilot Gavande 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. After working as a mechanical design engineer at Toyota Racing Development in California for four years, she joined Blue Origin in April this year.
“She was a silent girl since childhood and good in studies,” her mother told India Today. According to her mother, when Gavande took mechanical engineering, people around them expressed apprehensions about a girl opting for the subject. Blowing all the stereotypes of regressive society around her, Gavande has made it into the space industry, a field where women are leading the path for the country.
On July 20, New Shephard will take Bezos and his brother Mark to space. Other crew members include auction winner Oliver Daeman and the honoured guest Wally Funk, an 82-year-old legendary pilot and icon for women. Gavande expressed her delight in being a part of the crew that sends Funk to space.