Second rocket scientist K Sivan to succeed Kiran Kumar as Isro chief

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When K Sivan, now the appointed chairman designate of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), received a call on Wednesday to be chosen for the highest-profile space work in the country, he was reviewing the preparation of the mission of the rocket horse of battle of India. the Polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV).

The PSLV C-40 is expected to transmit 31 satellites, including a remote sensing Cartosat-2 and a nano satellite that will be the one hundred built by Isro. It is a coincidence that the space scientist started his company in 1982 in the space agency of the PSLV rocket.

Sivan is the second space scientist after G Madhavan Nair headed Isro. He has a difficult task ahead in the three years that will be in the lead. The priority would be to allow a public-private consortium to build the PSLV rocket, which the current president, A S Kiran Kumar, said would be launched by 2021.

Sivan also has to rush the effort to bring private players to the construction of satellites and rockets, to replicate the success of India’s software in the aerospace industry. He has experience in dealing with the private sector while looking to build a shorter rocket. It has helped to transfer the technology of lithium ion batteries developed for the space program to the Indian car industry.

Born in Nagercoil, the border city of Tamil Nadu with Kerala, and closer to
Mahendragiri, where the Isro propulsion complex is located, graduated from the Madras Institute of Technology in aeronautical engineering and later obtained a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Science. During his tenure at Isro, he obtained a PhD in aerospace engineering from IIT-Bombay in 2006.

Currently director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), he is the first Tamil-born scientist to have risen to the top of the space agency.

He was project manager of the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) with the indigenous cryogenic engine, a technology that eventually built India after decades of sanctions and denial of technology. He also worked on the heaviest GSLV-III rocket and the technological demonstrator of the reusable launch vehicle (RLV-TD), the unmanned aircraft similar to a spacecraft that is designed to launch satellites into space and land on a runway again. .

The RLV is also Isro’s attempt to reduce the cost of space access and remain competitive in the face of agile competitors such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, who have built rockets that can return to Earth after dropping satellites into the sky. space.

Sivan also has to take note of the changes introduced by the predecessor Kiran Kumar, such as the spatial resources that could be used for urban planning, rail networks and agriculture. As the principal architect of the 6D trajectory simulation software, SITARA, the backbone of the trajectory simulations of all Isro launch vehicles, understands the need to make quick decisions. Isro needs it at a time when India has a small window to take over part of the space business by using its national talents and resources.

That is all after he took over as chairman designate, after Pongal on January 15, the harvest festival. In Tamil Nadu, there is a saying: Thai pirandhal, vazhi porakkum (when the new Tamil month of Thailand begins, it will pave the way for opportunities). Sivan will wait for the auspicious day for the new beginning.