Eminent scientist K. Sivan, known as the “Rocket Man” for his significant contribution in the development of cryogenic engines for India’s space programme, was on Wednesday appointed as the new Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Currently the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center in Thiruvananthapuram which is responsible for the design and development activities for all launch vehicles, Sivan will succeed A.S. Kiran Kumar and have a three-year term as the ISRO chief.
Sivan’s appointment was cleared by the Appointment Committee of Cabinet (ACC) on Wednesday. It comes at a time when ISRO is planning to outsource the construction of satellites and rockets for future launches. An alumnus of IIT Bombay, Sivan has contributed significantly to Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and GSLV Mk-Ill vehicle design. He has been credited for the development of the PSLV rocket that launched 104 satellites in a single mission, setting a world record in February last year.
Sivan also designed a software called Sitara, which ISRO uses for simulating trajectories of its rockets. He led the Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) project, one of the most technologically challenging endeavors of ISRO towards developing essential technologies for a fully reusable launch vehicle, and was involved in its design qualification, aerodynamic characterization and hardware development.
The PSLV-C37 launch carried innovative experiments like using the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) navigation system for predicting orbits of satellites. Sivan will also be overseeing the launch of the refurbished PSLV on Friday. Graduating from Madras Institute of Technology in Aeronautical Engineering in 1980, he took his ME in Aerospace Engineering from IISc, Bangalore in 1982. Subsequently, he completed his Ph.D. in Aerospace engineering from IIT-Bombay in 2006.