Brelveenraj Kaur is aiming for the stars – literally and figuratively.
An engineer in Measat’s Satellite Engineering Department, Brelveenraj said it is her dream to become an astronaut and work on board a space station one day.
It is quite fitting, given that this year’s ‘Space Week’, which ends today, celebrates ‘Women in Space’.
“I am ready to do the hard work to become one – whenever that is. The first step is to be prepared to face hardship. I am ready for that,” said Brelveenraj, an Electrical and Electronics Engineering graduate from the National Defence University of Malaysia.
“It would be very cool to perform research in microgravity because it is a very challenging environment. I hope to get that chance one day.
“And it is not just about experiments. The Russians are shooting a movie in space, beating Tom Cruise to the punch as he wanted to be the first to do so!”
Brelveenraj, or Brel to her friends, said space is a multidisciplinary field, and anyone could be involved in the industry – even if they do not have a science, technology, engineering and mathematics background.
“You can be a space lawyer, space journalist or be involved in space tourism. But you must have passion. Only then, can you make it,” said Brelveenraj, who is pursuing her Masters in Aerospace Engineering.
And passion is something Brelveenraj has in spades.
From knowing next to nothing about satellites, to controlling them, the plucky lass has fought her inner demons to be the National Point of Contact to the United Nations-backed Space Generation Advisory Council.
“I had plenty of self-doubt when I joined Measat in 2018. I felt scared that maybe, I was not good enough. Or perhaps, somebody else should be here. Many negative thoughts.
“But I pushed through, as I am so passionate about what I do,” said Brelveenraj, who was inspired by her colleagues, who are from diverse educational backgrounds.
“My on the job training was excellent and challenging, but it helped put me where I am today.”
She only learnt about satellites during her final year project in university.
“Before that, I never knew these objects were floating in space, controlling GPS. It took me a while to understand, as the processing signal is the end part of the process.
“So, I deviated a bit from my topic. I started watching rocket launches and movies about space. I was hooked!”
In April, she moved to satellite engineering. Among others, she provides support in satellite performance monitoring and control to ensure the safety and health of the satellites, while maintaining satellite operations procedures and processes.
Brelveenraj also inspires youngsters to dream about space as she gets a big kick giving talks at the National Planetarium.
“My first talk was for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in July 2019,” said Brelveenraj, who was born in Kuantan but grew up in Kuala Lumpur.
“I was a little unsure if I was the right person, but the host put me at ease and told me that they did not get that many satellite controllers speaking to children.
“It was exciting as I showed them a picture of a satellite and said I controlled that. You should have seen their faces. A real ‘wow’ factor.”
Asked if she had any advice for those interested in a career in space, Brelveenraj said: “Surround yourself with supportive peers, mentors or teachers.
“Always stay curious, and never doubt yourself. It’s okay to be wrong, but do not let that stop you from dreaming.”