Meet ISRO Chairman K Sivan — The Man Heading Chandrayaan 2 Mission
Born to a farmer, Kailasavadivoo Sivan has built his reputation all by himself.
Born to a farmer, Kailasavadivoo Sivan has built his reputation all by himself.(Photo: IANS altered by The Quint)

Meet ISRO Chairman K Sivan — The Man Heading Chandrayaan 2 Mission

India is close to achieving a big feat in the history of space exploration and this is happening because of the efforts put by scientists and engineers at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Spearheading this team is Kailasavadivoo Sivan, Chairman at ISRO, who has been involved in everything: from designing of the spacecraft, to its landing attempt, set to take place at 1:55AM IST on 7 September.

So, who is K Sivan and what are his achievements at ISRO over the years? Here’s everything you need to know about the ‘Rocket Man’ and his humble upbringing in Tamil Nadu.

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Early Life

Kailasavadivoo Sivan was born on 14 April, 1957 to a farmer in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. Sivan studied in a local government school in Tamil medium, and according to one of his close relatives, he is the first graduate from the family.

His uncle, A Shunmugavel, told PTI in January 2018 that Sivan was "self-made, studious and hard-working. He never went to any tuition or coaching classes. Later, he went on to graduate from S.T. Hindu College in Nagercoil.”

File photo of Dr Sivan K.
File photo of Dr Sivan K.
(Photo: ANI)

His first step into the world of aeronautics began with his graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Madras Institute of Technology in 1980. After this, he completed his Master of Engineering in Aerospace from IISc, Bangalore in 1982. He also went on to complete his PhD in Aerospace engineering from IIT, Bombay in 2007.

Rise of the ‘Rocket Man’

Eventually, in 1982, Sivan joined ISRO, as a part of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project, wherein he was entrusted with contributing to end-to-end mission planning, mission design, mission integration, and analysis.

All of his efforts, through the years, have laid the foundation for ISRO to launch vehicles like GSLV, GSLV-MK3, and RLV-TD. 
ISRO Chairman K Sivan addresses a press conference on issues related to Department of Space in New Delhi. 
ISRO Chairman K Sivan addresses a press conference on issues related to Department of Space in New Delhi. 
(Photo: IANS)

The term ‘Rocket man’ was coined for Sivan because of his involvement in developing cryogenic engines for India's space program, and also coming up with the strategy to make sure the rockets can be launched under different weather and wind conditions.

His biggest feat to date is being the chief mission head for the successful launch of 104 satellites through a single mission of PSLV rocket launch in February 2017.

Laurels Galore

It’s obvious that Sivan’s contribution to the space community hasn’t gone unnoticed. And his set of awards over the years speak for themselves.

Sivan was honoured with Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from Sathyabama University, Chennai in April 2014, and also the prestigious Shri Hari Om Ashram Prerit Dr. Vikram Sarabhai Research award in 1999.

Union MoS Space Jitendra Singh and ISRO Chairman K Sivan at an event in Bengaluru.
Union MoS Space Jitendra Singh and ISRO Chairman K Sivan at an event in Bengaluru.
(Photo: IANS)

Additionally, he has also been conferred with the ISRO Merit Award, 2007; Dr Biren Roy Space Science and/or Design Award, 2011; Distinguished Alumnus Award from MIT Alumni Association, 2013, etc.

But it’s hard to contest that being made the head of ISRO in 2018 ranks as one of Sivan’s biggest success, in a field, where he built his reputation without undergoing formal training, but added innovative engineering maneuvers to change the way India was perceived in the global space community.

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