Who is new ISRO chief S Somnath?
- S Somnath has been appointed as ISRO's new chief
- He is an aerospace engineer from IISc Bengaluru
- He has several major contributions to the Indian space sector
On Wednesday, the Centre announced the appointment of rocket scientist S Somnath as the next chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Somnath will replace the outgoing K Sivan at the end of the latter's term on January 14.
An engineering graduate, Somnath completed his B. Tech in mechanical engineering from the TKM College of Engineering in Kollam, Kerala, before completing his Master's degree in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru with a gold medal. During his post-graduation, Somnath specialised in "structures, dynamics, and control."
In 1985, Somnath joined the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram and was the team leader for the integration of ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) during its early stages of development, contributing considerably to the PSLV's popularity as a launch vehicle for micro-satellites.
According to the website of the VSSC, where Somnath has served as the Director since 2018, the rocket scientist "joined GSLV Mk-III Project during 2003 and was the Deputy Project Director responsible for overall design of the vehicle, mission design, structural design and integration."
Somnath also served as the Project Director of the indigenously-developed launch vehicle, GSLV Mk-III, from June 2010 to 2014, and "is an expert in the area of system engineering of Launch vehicles. His contributions in PSLV and GcSLV Mk-III were in their overall architecture, propulsion stages design, structural and structural dynamics designs, separation systems, vehicle integration and integration procedures development."
Further, during his time at the VSSC, Somnath also contributed to the development of high thrust semi-cryogenic engines, the development of throttleable engines for Chandrayaan-2's lander craft, as well as to the first successful flight of the electric propulsion system in India's geostationary communications satellite, GSAT-9.
Over the course of his career, Somnath has been honoured with several awards, including the ‘Space Gold Medal’ from the Astronautical Society of India, the ‘Merit Award' and ‘Performance Excellence award’ from ISRO, and a 'Team excellence award’ for the development of the launch vehicle GSLV Mk-III.