Dr. S Somnath appointed as ISRO chief who led Chandrayaan-2 rocket launcher project

The Center on Wednesday appointed senior rocket scientist S Somnath as the next chief of the Indian Space and Research Organization (ISRO). He has been instrumental in the development of the GSLV Mk-III launcher and was a team leader for the integration of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) during the early stages of his career.

He has been appointed as Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman of the Space Commission for a period of three years.

Who is Dr. S. Somnath?

Dr. Somnath was born in 1963 and graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kerala. He secured second position in the university. He then completed his post graduation in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. He was also awarded a Gold Medal for his performance. Also Read – Today’s Google Doodle is about India’s ‘Satellite Man’: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

In 1985, just after graduation, Somnath joined the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation. At ISRO, Somnath worked on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project in its initial phase.

In the year 2010, he also held the position of Associate Director (Projects) of VSSC and Project Director of GSLV Mk-III Launch Vehicle. He then moved to the position of Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Center (LPSC) in the year 2015. And in January 2018 he was appointed as the Director of VSSC. He had replaced K Sivan for this post as well.

He is heading the post of Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC) since January 22, 2018. He will replace K Sivan as the next head of one of the world’s leading space agencies.

Somnath has been a part of the development activities of the High Thrust Semi-cryogenic Engine and has envisioned a fast track hardware realization and testing programme. The development of the throttle engine for Chandrayaan-2’s lander craft and the successful maiden flight of the electric propulsion system in GSAT-9 were some of the achievements.

Somnath is an expert in the areas of Launch Vehicle Structural Systems, Structural Dynamics, Mechanisms, Pyro Systems and Launch Vehicle Integration. He has made significant contributions to mechanical integration designs that have made PSLV a highly sought-after launcher for micro-satellites across the world.

He has been instrumental in finalizing detailed configuration engineering since the initial definition of the GSLV Mk III vehicle, which includes simplification of certain systems and adoption of proven technologies to reduce technology risks.

A graduate in Mechanical Engineering from TKM College of Engineering, Kollam and a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, he joined VSSC in 1985. He was the Project Director of GSLV Mk-III from June 2010 to 2014. He was Deputy Director of ‘Structure’ Unit in VSSC and also Deputy Director of ‘Propulsion and Space Ordnance Unit’ in VSSC till November 2014.

He was also instrumental in three successful missions of GSLV with indigenous cryogenic stages and eleven successful missions of PSLV with liquid stages realized by LPSC. Fifteen successful satellite missions were also completed with propulsion systems supplied from LPSC.