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Eminent rocket scientist Somanath appointed ISRO Chairman

S. Somanath

S. Somanath

Eminent rocket scientist S. Somanath has been appointed as the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Space Secretary.

Dr. Somanath is taking over the reins of ISRO at a critical juncture when sweeping reforms and critical missions are set to define the forward journey of the storied space agency.

Commenting on his priorities, Dr. Somanath told The Hindu that space sector reforms, which involves hand-holding the private sector and start-ups so that they emerge as key partners in the sector’s development, find a top spot on his list.

“We have to hold their hand and support them to come up. The idea is that the space ecosystem should become more vibrant, economically viable and self-sustaining. IN-SPACe is defining a new model, which is also designed to expand our space economy. The ₹16,000-crore space economy that we have in India today should grow to a ₹60,000-crore space economy,” said Dr. Somanath, who has been serving as the Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST).

The senior space scientist is also taking over at a time when ISRO has numerous missions and projects — the Gaganyaan human spaceflight mission included — waiting in the wings. Further, the COVID-19 has played havoc with ISRO’s schedules over the past two years, setting another challenge.

Looking back, Dr. Somanath recalls his younger days, when, as a student, he developed a keen passion for space technology. He joined the VSSC in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project in 1985, after obtaining his B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering from the TKM College of Engineering, Kollam, and a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore with specialisation in Structures, Dynamics and Control.

Dr. Somanath has played a major role in the development of the PSLV and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-III (GSLV Mk-III). He joined the GSLV Mk-III project in 2003, and served as Project Director from 2010 to 2014. “Somanath is an expert in the area of system engineering of launch vehicles. His contributions in PSLV and GSLV MkIII were in their overall architecture, propulsion stages design, structural and structural dynamics designs, separation systems, vehicle integration and integration procedures development,” according to ISRO.

Later on, he had a two-and-a-half-year stint as Director, Liquid Systems Propulsion Centre (LPSC), Valiamala, where he contributed to the development of the indigenous cryogenic stages for the GSLV. Dr. Somanath took over as the Director, VSSC, in January 2018.


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Printable version | May 16, 2022 9:28:03 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/eminent-rocket-scientist-somanath-appointed-isro-chairman/article38258497.ece