K. Sivan, a space scientist from Tamil Nadu, is now Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Taking over the reins from A.S. Kiran Kumar, Sivan becomes the ninth head of the 50-year-old organisation. So here are some facts about the man of the moment.
Born to a farmer in Tarakkanvilai village of Kanyakumari, Sivan completed his schooling in Tamil medium government schools. A self-made and hard-working person, he taught himself without any guidance from family or attending tutions; yet he became the first graduate in his family.
In 1980, Sivan completed his bachelor course in aeronautical engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. After completing a master course in aerospace engineering from IISC Bengaluru, he joined the ISRO in 1982. In ISRO, Sivan was part of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project where he contributed significantly to the planning, designing, integration, and analysis of the mission. In his career spanning over three decades, Sivan has worked in projects including GSLV, PSLV, and GSLV MkIII, and has been the project director of GSLV rocket. Sivan completed his PhD from IIT Bombay in 2006 and also holds an honorary doctorate in science from Sathyabama University, which he received in 2014.
For his contribution to space research, the rocket scientist has received many awards, including the Shri Hari Om Ashram Prerit Dr Vikram Sarabhai Research Award in 1999, ISRO Merit Award in 2007, and Dr. Biren Roy Space Science Award in 2011.
Sivan is a Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering, Indian Systems Society for Science and Engineering, Aeronautical Society of India, and Systems Society of India. With his expertise in all areas pertaining to launching vehicles, he published a book titled Integrated Design for Space Transportation System in the year 2015.
Sivan was working as the director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, before taking charge as the Chairman of ISRO. Along with being the Chairman, he has also been appointed as the Secretary of Department of Space and Chairman of the Space Commission. In February 2017, India set a world record by launching 104 satellites with a single flight of PSLV. Sivan played a key role in setting that record. In the first year of his three-year period of Chairmanship, two important missions for him will be the launch of Chandrayaan-II and the developmental flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-MK3) in April. Apart from that, he will have to work towards designing bigger launch vehicles and reducing the cost of satellites. Sivan predecessor Alur Seelin Kiran Kumar worked in the satellite payload and applications domains in his 40-year-long career in ISRO. With his expertise, Kiran made significant contributions to the design and development of Electro-Optical Imaging Sensors (for Airborne, Geostationary Orbit and Low Earth Orbit satellites).