New Delhi: S Somanath, a rocket scientist, has been named the next head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and secretary of the Department of Space. Since January 2018, S Somanath has been the director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). For the next three years, he will serve as Secretary of the Department of Space and Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The Centre on January 12 appointed S. Somanath as the secretary of the Department of Space and the chairman of the space commission. Somanath is currently the director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram.
His new appointment is for a combined tenure of three years from the date of joining, including an extension in tenure beyond the age of superannuation in public interest, according to an order from the Union personnel ministry.
Somanath will succeed K. Sivan, who will complete his extended tenure on Friday, January 14, at the helm of ISRO.
S Somanath joined ISRO in 1985 after graduating from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru and worked significantly on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLG) programmes. Somanath was appointed director of Isro’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) in Thiruvananthapuram in June 2015.
During his early career, he was a team leader for the Integration of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and was essential in the creation of the GSLV Mk-III launcher. From June 2010 to 2014, he was the Project Director of the GSLV Mk-III. Until November 2014, he was the Deputy Director of the VSSC’Structures’ Entity as well as the Deputy Director of the VSSC’Propulsion and Space Ordinance Entity.
Somnath has been part of the development activities of the high thrust semi-cryogenic engine and conceived a fast track hardware realization and test program. The development of throttleable engines for lander craft of Chanradrayaan-2 and the first-time successful flight of an 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 the mechanical integration designs that made PSLV a highly sought-after launcher for microsatellites from across the world.
(With Inputs from PTI)