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Rocket Scientist S Somanath appointed ISRO Chairman

S Somanath

(pic) Outgoing Chairman S. Sivan is at right in picture (Image is copy/paste @ISRO/Twitter) 

Eminent rocket scientist S Somanath (at left in picture) took charge as 10th chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and as the Secretary of the Department of Space, Government of India on January 14, 2022.

Previously, S Somanath has served as the Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) since 2018. S Somanath has also served as the Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) for two-and-half years.

BIO, new ISRO Chairman, S Somanath

S Somanath joined the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC) in 1985 after completing his B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering from TKM College of Engineering, Kollam, and Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

I recall meeting him in the year 1990 at a seminar hosted by VSSC that I attended, representing my then organization, GE Astro USA, where I had previously hosted an official from ‘ANTRIX Corporation’ (*1); so I had received an invite to VSSC. { citation (*1)  }

After his Post Grad education at IISc, S Somanath was groomed at ISRO; he became an expert in a host of disciplines including launch vehicle design and has specialised in launch vehicle systems engineering, structural design, structural dynamics, integration designs and procedures, mechanism design and pyrotechnics.

A few years after joining the VSSC, he joined the GSLV Mk-III launcher in 2003 and went on to become the Project Director of GSLV Mk-III from 2010 to 2014. 

He also was the Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) and was responsible for the system integration design, development and testing of the stages of PSLV during its development. Somanath has won many accolades which include Gold Medal from Bengaluru’s IISc during his Master’s Programme and ‘Space Gold Medal’ from the Astronautical Society of India.

ISRO’s Performance Excellence award in 2009 and the ‘Team excellence award’ for effective leadership of the GSLV Mk-III project is also under his belt.


(pic) Representative Image of a GSLV Mark III launch


  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch foreign satellites as it has signed six agreements with four countries during 2021-2023, informed Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Thursday, December 16, in reply to a question during the Rajya Sabha.
  • These launches will be done under six Launch service agreements that the organisation’s commercial arm, New Space India Limited (NSIL), has inked with the four countries. According to the Minister, all the launches will be commercial and a total of 132 million Euros will be generated from the foreign satellites.

    “ISRO through its commercial arm, New Space India Limited (NSIL), a Government of India company under Department of Space (DOS), has been launching satellites belonging to other countries on-board Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), on a commercial basis,” Union Minister Jitendra Singh informed in his written reply to Rajya Sabha.

    The Union Minister also revealed that ISRO’s PSLV has launched a total of 342 satellites since 1999 for 34 foreign countries. Besides, India has added $35 million and 10 million Euros in foreign exchange (forex) reserve primarily from the launches in 2019-2021. 

      • In addition to this, ISRO is also working on the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), which is in its final developmental stage and will probably be tested in the first quarter of 2022. The Minister informed that once completed, the SSLV will be able to carry a payload of 500 kilograms to an altitude of 500 kilometers. Earlier on Wednesday, he had revealed that, in the last five years, ISRO has successfully launched 25 launch vehicle missions and 27 satellite missions. 
      • Earlier during the winter session of the Parliament, it was revealed that India will launch its first manned space flight under mission ‘Gaganyaan’ in 2023. Prior to the first crewed flight, ISRO has also planned two unmanned flights beginning from the second half of 2022 followed by the second launch at the end of the same year.
      • Interestingly, the ‘Gaganyaan‘ mission will be entailed by the launch of India’s own space station in the low-Earth orbit (LEO) by the end of 2030.
      • The space station, which will be fixated in orbit 400 kilometers above the Earth, will weigh 20 tonnes and astronauts could stay there for 15-20 days. 



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Suresh Rao

Mellowed out and enlightened septuagenarian. Tech savvy. Social writing is just a pastime to kill time. I keep contributing to several developmental projects in the area of engineering education, IT and Healthcare projects launched by my kith and kin. I am too lazy to write a book, 'cause I think my life itself is a book! I am also at
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Navneet Bakshi
Navneet Bakshi
4 months ago

India has been pursuing her space research programme quite doggedly and with a relatively handsome bag of mixed success and failures which is all in the game. I really don’t know financially how rewarding it has been for our scientists but their zeal and dedication needs to be applauded because it is a tough field posing great challenges. The present government is quite supportive but that doesn’t make the task of the scientists any easier. Let’s see if he proves to be luckier than S. Sivan in our space missions. The failure to land Chandrayan on moon was quite a sad event in Sivan’s otherwise successful tenure.

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