By Gracie Williams 

On Wednesday, Ravi Gondaliya held his first lecture on the history and future of space vehicles and exploration at Bull Street Labs.

Gondaliya is a NASA Jet Propulsion Lab Solar System Ambassador based in the Savannah area. Although he works as a process engineer for Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, he encourages, “You don’t have to be an engineer or a NASA Scientist to become a NASA Ambassador.”

In the talk titled, “Space Vehicles: Where are we now? Where did we start?” Gondaliya shares an in-depth view of the “Fathers of Rocketry” and the ideas that commenced the entire industry of space vehicles and eventually space exploration. These ideas date back not just 70 years to the dawn of the space age, but over 2000 years ago.

He navigates through the invention of rockets and other exploration devices, focusing not only on NASA’s involvement, but other important private spacecraft companies as well.

Although he shows us how far we have come with the advancement of space vehicles and exploration, Gondaliya notes that there is still a long way to go.

“The future now is looking brighter than ever,” Gondaliya said. “This is just the beginning.”

Becoming apart of NASA’s program can also be a way to make the future brighter for those interested. “This is a selective voluntary program that you apply every year to be a part of,” Gondaliya said. “If you have a burning desire, the drive to spread NASA’s missions, and to spread space exploration throughout the community, this is the best way to do it.”

There are volunteers from all across the nation, with over 100 ambassadors active in the United States alone. Gondaliya is one of two ambassadors residing in the Savannah area. Next year, the program intends on selecting 50 or more applicants to join. “There are multiple people who are actually working on the real space missions that you are in touch with while they train you, then you are able to take the information you learn about those missions, and share it with your community,” he said. 

With over 40,000 events accomplished already, the program has reached over 9 billion people since the year 2000.

“If one person’s life is changed by this program, then it is a win for us,” Gondaliya said. “This is for the future generation.”

Gondaliya will be holding 3 more talks before the end of the year, focusing on various topics and space missions within NASA.

If you are interested in becoming a NASA Solar System Ambassador or learning more about the program, you can visit https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6939.

Watch out for more upcoming events at https://solarsystem1.jpl.nasa.gov/ssa/home.cfm.