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From farmer's son to Chairman of ISRO: Meet Dr. Sivan

May 22, 2019

From farmer's son to Chairman of ISRO: Meet Dr. Sivan
From farmer's son to Chairman of ISRO: Meet Dr. Sivan | Photography: Theyouth

The will to win, the desire to make it big, the urge to unleash your fullest potential are the keys to attain personal excellence. Born to a farmer, in the humble town of Tarakkanvillai in Kanyakumari, Dr K Sivan, through sheer merit and determination, rose up to the height of becoming the ninth chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation.

He has been instrumental in the development of PSLV, called the workhorse of ISRO and has put tremendous effort towards mission planning, design, integration and analysis. Here is a brief account of the life of the man genius who elevated the pride of Tamil Nadu to a different level.

Glorious performance in academics

Sivan, fondly known as the rocket man, started off his early schooling in his regional language, Tamil. He was extremely hard working and became the first graduate in his family. Sivan, as a young man wanted to pursue engineering after his pre-university education.

Unfortunately, financial constraints held him back and he decided to study Bachelors in Mathematics in S.T.Hindu college in Nagercoil.

It was during his bachelor studies that his exceptional skills in mathematics was noticed. he created a record by hitting 100% in four subjects and won a scholarship to study further in Madras Institute Technology which is known to have produced geniuses like A.P.J Abdul Kalam.

Later, he continued with Aerospace Engineering in IISC, Bangalore and joined ISRO in 1982.

His contributions in the field of rockets

Sivan's career in ISRO extended over three decades where he took part in various programmes like building and launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and many other projects including GSLV, PSLV, and GSLV MkIII. He has served as a director of GSLV rocket where he contributed towards planning, design and execution of the program.

He is the main force behind the construction of 6D trajectory simulation software, SITARA which serves as the backbone of the real-time and non-real-time trajectory simulations of all the space vehicles launched by ISRO. according to the VSSC. The wind biasing strategy devised by him has eased the rocket launch on any day at any weather conditions.

He has also taken part for developing strategies in launching Mangalyaan or the space satellite to Mars through PSLV.

In April 2011, he took over the GSLV mission and contributed to the historical launch of the flight.

Sivan served as the director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. He was also appointed as the Secretary of the Department of Space.

In 2017, Sivan played an important role in launching 104 satellites with a single flight of PSLV which was one of the key achievements of India in the field of space and technology.

Chairmanship of ISRO

After 36 years of service in the field of Aerospace Engineering, he succeeded A.S.Kiran Kumar to be appointed as the ninth chairman of ISRO on 15th January 2018. During his chairmanship, he is expected to execute the launch of Chandrayaan-2 and GSLV by the end of April 2019.

Awards and Honours

In 2006, he obtained his doctorate from IIT Bombay and an honorary doctorate in Science from Sathyabama University. He 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.

For his contribution to Science and Technology, he was given the following awards:

  1. Shri Hari Om Ashram Prerit Dr Vikram Sarabhai Research Award in 1999.
  2. ISRO Merit Award in 2007.
  3. Dr Biren Roy Space Science Award in 2011.

He compiled his expertise in the varied areas of Aerospace Engineering and launched a book titled Integrated Design for Space Transportation System in the year 2015.

Dr Sivan had a friendly meeting with school children as a part of New Year celebrations, 2019. He inspired a lot of them with his positive energy and tremendous ability to cope up with challenges.

"Whenever we are short of ideas or inspiration, we will look for you. We will be ever ready to answer your questions related to India's space missions," exclaimed Dr Sivan, expressing his enthusiasm and trust on future scientists and engineers.