8 things to know about K. Sivan, the new ISRO Chairman

Sivan’s emotions are a reminder of how passion drove a humble Tamil Nadu farmer’s son to lead India’s most ambitious and complex space mission so far.

Born on 14 April 1957 in a village in Tamil Nadu, Sivan was the first in his family to graduate from college. He studied at a Tamil medium school and has often said that he wore footwear for the first time only when he went to college at the Madras Institute of Technology.

  1. 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.
  2. In 1980, Sivan completed his bachelor’s course in aeronautical engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. After completing a master’s course in aerospace engineering from IISC Bengaluru, he joined the ISRO in 1982.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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’s 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).

Kiran also played an important role in developing the strategy that helped steer Mars Orbiter Spacecraft towards Mars.

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