New Delhi, Jan 13: In a major development, the Central government has appointed eminent rocket scientist Dr. Somanath, who is at present director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) as chairperson of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). With that, he will be the 10th chairman of the premier space organisation.
The appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on Wednesday for the post of Secretary, Department of Space, and Chairman. Somanath will be succeeding K Sivan, who will be completing his extended term on Friday (January 14). Sivan was appointed as the Isro chief in January 2018 and was given a one-year extension till January 14, 2022.
Somanath’s appointment as the Space Secretary and the Space Commission Chairman is for a combined tenure of three years from the date of joining of the post, inclusive of an extension in tenure beyond the age of superannuation in the public interest, the government order said.
It should be noted that Somanath is known for his contributions to launch vehicle design, particularly in the areas of launch vehicle systems engineering, structural design, structural dynamics, and pyrotechnics. Dr. Somanath was the project director of GSLV MK-III from June 2010 to 2014. An expert in the area of system engineering of launch vehicles, he made immense contribution in the development of PSLV and GSLV MkIII programs in their overall architecture, propulsion stages design, structural and structural dynamics designs, separation systems, vehicle integration, etc. Under S Somnath's leadership, the first experimental flight of the LVM3-X/CARE mission was accomplished on December 18, 2014.
Expressing happiness over his appointment, S Somnath said, "I am very happy to join as Secretary, Department of
Space and Chairman, Space Commission (ISRO). It is an honour. "
He further added, "Areas of focus will be technology, policy, implementation, and areas where stakeholders need to be taken care of. We need to bring in newer approaches; have to work with various capacity builders like tech companies. "