New Delhi: Senior rocket scientist S Somanath has been selected as the new Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and Secretary of the Department of Space. Somanath, a Distinguished Scientist at ISRO, will succeed K Sivan as the chief of ISRO, as the latter’s tenure ends on January 14.
Sivan was appointed the Chairman of ISRO in 2018.
Somanath shall be serving as the Secretary of the Department of Space (DoS) and Chairman of ISRO for a tenure of three years, according to a release by the Centre’s Ministry Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions.
On Thursday, the Minister of State for the Union Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh, congratulated Somanath for his achievement.
Congratulations Dr S Somanath for being appointed as the new Chairman #ISRO & Secretary Department of Space. With historic Space missions, including India’s first manned mission #Gagakonan, in the pipeline, you are destined to perform an eventful innings. pic.twitter.com/2ilqiBoDv8
— Dr Jitendra Singh (@DrJitendraSingh) January 13, 2022
Following are 16 things you need to know about the new chief of India’s Space Commission:
1. Somanath is 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, according to ISRO.
2. Somanath took charge as Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) on January 22, 2018. He had served as the Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Thiruvananathapuram, for two and a half years.
3. Previously, he served as the Associate Director (Projects) of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and also as Project Director of GSLV Mk-III Launch vehicle, from 2010 to 2014.
The first Experimental flight of the LVM3-X/CARE mission was successfully accomplished on December 18, 2014, under his leadership. This was the first experimental suborbital test flight of LVM3.
4. Somanath completed his B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering from TKM College of Engineering, Kollam, and Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore with specialisation in Structures, Dynamics, and Control.
5. Somanath had joined VSSC in 1985 and was a team leader for integration of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) during the first and second developmental flights of PSLV.
He was a member of the vehicle integration team, and was responsible for the system integration design, subassembly realisation and testing the stages of PSLV during its development.
6. He handled areas of mechanisms, pyro systems, integration, and satellite launch service management as Project Manager, Vehicle Engineering and Launch Services Management of PSLV Project.
He was responsible for the mechanisms and pyro-technique systems of the vehicle.
As satellite launch service manager, he coordinated the launches of commercial mini-satellites as part of the PSLV-C2 and C3 missions, and the development of small satellite accommodation systems and separation systems for mini-satellites.
7. Somanath authored the Project report of GSLV Mk-III (also known as LVM3) from 2000 to 2002 and joined the GSLV Mk-III Project in 2003.
He was the Deputy Project Director and was responsible for the overall design of the vehicle, mission design, structural design, and integration.
He subsequently served as Deputy Project Director responsible for Vehicle Engineering and Mission design, Structural Design, and Integration. He became the Project Director of GSLV Mk-III in 2010.
8. Somanath is an expert in the area of system engineering of launch vehicles. His contributions to 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.
9. Since 2015, Somanath led the team of LPSC to complete the development and qualification of CE20 cryogenic engine and the C25 stage. The engine was successfully flown in GSLV MkIII-D1 flight
10. Somanath has played a key role in three successful missions of GSLV with indigenous cryogenic stages and eleven successful missions of PSLV with the liquid stages realised by LPSC, since July 2015.
With the propulsion systems supplied form LPSC, 15 successful satellite missions were also accomplished.
11. The development of throttleable engines for the lander craft of Chanradrayaan-2 and the first successful flight of electric propulsion system in GSAT-9 were some of the achievements.
12. He is the recipient of many awards and honours, including the ‘Space Gold Medal’ from the Astronautical Society of India. He received the ‘Performance Excellence award’ from ISRO in 2009 and the ‘Team excellence’ award for GSLV Mk-III realisation.
13. He is a Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), Fellow of Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI), Astronautical Society of India (ASI) and a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).
14. He was a member of the Indian delegation to UN-COPUOS, Vienna in 2013. He participated in International Astronautical Federation Congress (IAF-2012) held in Prague in 2012, launch activities of ISRO satellites on Ariane-5 at Kourou, French Guyana, mission reviews for GSAT missions at ESA, Paris, and customer spacecraft interface at KAIST, South Korea.
15. He is a member of the Technical Committee for Space Transportation and also the International Project/Program Management Committee of IAF.
16. He has published papers in journals & seminars in the area of structural dynamics and control, dynamic analysis of separation mechanisms, vibration & acoustic testing, launch vehicle design, and launch services management.