ISRO is pushing forward with the appointments to its top posts of directors of several space research centres marking a stark difference from the past when such appointments took months of delay and P. Kunhikrishnan, K. Sivan and S. Somnath are among those who take reins from their predecessors this week.
The new director of Indian Space Research Organisation’s spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh is Kunhikrishnan who will head the the Satish Dhawan space centre stepping into the shoes of M.Y.S. Prasad, who superannuated on May 31. The second key appointment was of Dr. K. Sivan as the new director for Vikram Sarabhai space centre on superannuation of M. Chandradathan on May 30, while heavy rocket project director S. Somnath succeeded Sivan as director of the liquid propulsion systems centre.
Mr Kunhikrishnan is already a familiar face in Sriharikota as he worked as deputy director and was responsible for the flight certification of all the avionics systems of launch vehicles and also headed the quality control wing of the centre. He was instrumental in overseeing the certification process of 13 polar satellite launch vehicles (PSLV) and was behind the Mars Orbiter Mission Mangalyaan’s launch to inter-planetary segment.
Equally responsible for the launch of MoM was Dr Sivan, who was the chief architect of 6D trajectory simulation software (Sitara) that helps scientists in the non-real time trajectory simulations of all rocket launchers. “Mr Sivan contributed significantly in setting up a parallel computing facility and hypersonic wind tunnel facility, which has opened new avenues in computational fluid dynamics and self-reliance in wind tunnel testing,” said ISRO in a statement.
The third major appointment was of Dr. Somnath, an expert in launch vehicle design with expertise in structural dynamics and pyrotechnics and he has been instrumental in the project report of GSLV Mk-III during 2000-2002 and subsequently joined the project in 2003.
“Under Somanath’s leadership, the first experimental suborbital test flight of LVM3, was accomplished on December 18, 2014,” said the ISRO statement and all these appointments go a long way in preparation for the ISRO’s next challenging task of test-launching a re-usable space shuttle in few months from now.