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S. Somanath- A Renowned Rocket Scientist Appointed as ISRO Chairman

Shivam Dwivedi
Shivam Dwivedi
S. Somanath, Chairman, ISRO

S. Somanath, an eminent rocket scientist, has been named as the Chairman & Space Secretary of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He is taking over the reins of ISRO at a pivotal point in the agency's history, when substantial reforms and critical missions are likely to determine the agency's future.

Dr. Somanath informed that space sector reforms, which entails assisting the private sector and start-ups so that they can become essential partners in the sector's development, are at the top of his priority list.

“We need to hold their hand & support them to come up. The idea is that the space ecosystem should become more vibrant, economically viable & self-sustaining. IN-SPACe is defining a new model, which is also designed to expand our space economy. The Rs.16,000-crore space economy that we have in India today should grow to a Rs. 60,000-crore space economy” said Somanath, who has been serving as the Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) & the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST).

The veteran space scientist is also taking over at a time when ISRO has a number of missions and projects in the works, including the Gaganyaan human spaceflight programme. Furthermore, for the last two years, the COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on ISRO's timetables, posing a new obstacle.

About Dr. Somanath:

  • Dr. Somanath reflects on his early years as a student, when he developed a strong interest in space technology. After earning a B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering from TKM College of Engineering in Kollam and a Masters in Aerospace Engineering with a specialization in Structures, Dynamics, and Control from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, he joined the VSSC in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project in 1985.

  • Dr. Somanath was a key contributor to the PSLV and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-development. III's (GSLV Mk-III). He began working on the GSLV Mk-III project in 2003, and from 2010 to 2014, he served as Project Director. "Somanath is an expert in the field of launch vehicle system engineering. According to ISRO, "his contributions to PSLV and GSLV MkIII included overall architecture, propulsion stages design, structural and structural dynamics designs, separation systems, vehicle integration, and integration procedures development."

  • Later, he served as Director, Liquid Systems Propulsion Centre (LPSC), Valiamala, for two and a half years, where he contributed to the development of indigenous cryogenic stages for the GSLV. In January 2018, Dr. Somanath was named Director of the VSSC.

How is Space Research Useful for Agriculture?

ISRO's contribution to the agriculture industry is critical as remote sensing satellites provide key data for monitoring soil, snow cover, drought & crop development. Rainfall assessments from satellites, for example, help farmers plan the timing and amount of irrigation they will need for their crops.

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