New Delhi: Dr S Somnath on Friday assumed charge as Secretary, Department of Space, ISRO and Chairman of the Space Commission. Dr Somnath was given this new responsibility on this Wednesday.
In 1994, a young engineer from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was enlisted along with two of his senior colleagues to fix a problem in the Live Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket. This rocket was ready to be launched, but then a problem was detected in it and that much awaited launch was called off. Since the rocket was loaded with about 200 tons of dangerous fuel and chemical cocktails at that time, it was a big challenge to recover।
But de-arming the rocket by depleting all this fuel meant a delay in launch. But that young engineer within minutes, the problem was resolved and the rocket performed extremely well – it was a textbook launch and the first successful flight of the PSLV, which is considered India’s workhorse rocket.
The young scientist who did this impossible task is the newly appointed Chairman of ISRO and Secretary of the Department of Space – Dr. S. Somnath.
Somnath, who hails from Alappuzha (Alleppey) in the southern Kerala state of India, was very inclined towards science from the time of his schooling. Despite being a Hindi teacher, Somnath’s father bought his son science books in both English and Malayalam, encouraging his passion and aptitude for science. Later on, Somnath did his BTech in Mechanical Engineering, during which he developed a keen interest in space.
As a college student, Somnath specifically asked his professor to give him propulsion—a specific subject in rocketry that is not taught as part of engineering— was requested to teach a course on, Interestingly, even the faculty agreed to teach him.
The TKM College of Engineering in Kollam, Kerala – which had never taught a course until now – took the challenge with ease and enrolled 10 students. Propulsion who had shown interest at that time.
During his final years in college, Somnath applied for a job at ISRO, when it was recruiting young engineers to join the PSLV programme. Seeing his high score in the previous semester, Somnath was admitted to ISRO. Thus began Somnath’s journey to realize his childhood dream of studying planets.
He joined ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Center in 1985 as the lead facility for rocket development and was a team leader for the integration of the PSLV rocket during its initial stages.
Rising up the ranks, he joined the GSLV MkIII project in 2003 and became the Deputy Project Director, responsible for the overall design and integration of India’s heaviest and most powerful rocket.
He was the Project Director of GSLV Mk-III from June 2010 to 2014. An expert in the field of systems engineering of launch vehicles, he was involved in the development of the PSLV and GSLV MkIII programs as their architect, Propulsion. the design Stages – Structural and structural mobility design, separation systems, vehicle integration etc. made a great contribution to।
Later, he led the LPSC (ISRO’s Center for Liquid Propulsion Systems) team to complete the development and qualification of the CE20 cryogenic engine and C25 stage, which were successfully flown in GSLV MkIII-D1 flight.
He was also instrumental in three successful missions of GSLV with indigenous cryogenic stages and eleven successful missions of PSLV with liquid stages realized by LPSC. Under his supervision, 15 successful satellite missions were completed with propulsion systems supplied from LPSC.
He is credited with driving the development activities of high-thrust semi-cryogenic engine, throttleable engine, successful flight of electric propulsion system in GSAT-9 for Chandrayaan-2 moon lander. Dr. Somnath holds a Gold Medal in Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
He will now serve as the Chairman of ISRO and Secretary of the Department of Space for a term of three years.
Dr. Cinema loves cinema. their wedding Valsala, who works in the Goods and Services Tax Department. The couple has two children, both of whom have completed master’s degrees in engineering.
first published:Jan. 14, 2022, 5:30 p.m.