India’s ‘rocket man’ Kailasavadivoo Sivan, popularly known as K Sivan, has been an inspiration for many aspiring youngsters to build their career in space technology. From being a farmer’s son studying in a Tamil-medium school to building himself to become the chief of The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Sivan has made youngsters believe that all dreams can be achieved through pure hard work.
Sivan joined ISRO in 1982 and after almost 36 years, he became the chairman of ISRO taking over the reins from A. S. Kiran Kumar on January 15, 2018. After four years, it is now time for him to move aside and hand over the chairmanship to S Somanath. January 14, 2022 is Sivan’s last day as ISRO chief.
During his tenure, ISRO saw an accelerated growth making headlines globally and during this period of time, India’s name was further etched in the world of space technology. Sivan had a huge role to play in shaping the world’s outlook towards India as to what our country can do in space.
Not to forget, perhaps for the first time, India as a country could feel the excitement and emotions attached with an ill-fated moon mission when PM Narendra Modi himself hugged a teary Sivan to console him for the Chandrayaan 2 setback.
India Gets Its Own Desi GPS With the Launch of NavIC
Under Sivan leadership, India also got to witness the future of its very own navigation system-NavIC, similar to the American GPS system. ISRO introduced Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) to smartphones.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016 had launched NavIC, it was only in 2020 we got to see NavIC in use after Qualcomm launched three mobile chipsets with support for NavIC. Your smartphone always had support for GLONASS, GPS, BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) and Galileo navigation systems. But for the first time we got to see an Indian navigation system being introduced on smartphones launched after 2020.
This simply makes the vision to have a desi Google Maps alternative more possible in the near future that will even work better than Google Maps.
K Sivan’s contribution to India’s space mission
*There’s no denying that Sivan’s contribution to India’s space mission has been huge and it would be a difficult task to officially list them out but according to ISRO, these are some key contributions that he made.
*Project Director, GSLV, Leader of team for end to end design revisit in the post-failure scenario. Resolution of design issues and making GSLV operational, including the flight testing of indigenous cryogenic engine and stage. 4 successful GSLV Mk II launches were done including the launch of South Asia Satellite recently.
*Instrumental in successful accomplishment of the first development flight of GSLV Mk-III that launched India’s heaviest satellite from our own soil. He is the Chief architect of ISRO’s Space Transportation and also for drawing technology roadmap for meeting the future requirements as well as augmenting the existing capabilities.
*He led the Flight testing of SCRAMJET engine, as well as technology demonstration of the reusable launch vehicle (RLV-TD). As Project Director of RLV-TD, he has made significant contributions in vehicle design, control & guidance, mission management strategies and flight demonstration.
*He developed a cost effective strategy for Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) launch using PSLV. In addition, he was primarily responsible for design and planning of ISRO launch vehicle missions. He is also the primary developer of Day of launch – wind biassing strategy for launch vehicles which has enabled all weather launch. He has implemented the strategy for upper stage (PS4) restart capability for PSLV which improves mission versatility by injecting multiple payloads in different orbits in a single launch mission. He has significantly contributed in performance and reliability enhancement of all ISRO launch vehicles. He was the chief mission architect for 104 satellites launched in a single mission of PSLV.
*He has established the Mission Synthesis and Simulation Facility, Parallel Computing Facility and Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Facility for ISRO’s launch vehicle program. In addition, he has provided thrust to many technology development initiatives for both launch vehicles as well as societal applications.
*He initiated technology development programs for Li-Ion cells, electric propulsion as well as advanced avionics for ISRO’s launch vehicle program. Li-Ion cell and electric propulsion is inducted into Launch Vehicles as well as Satellites.
*He has initiated development of medical devices in key areas with the medical fraternity, such as, development of advanced microprocessor controlled artificial limb and artificial heart pump called Left Ventricle Assist Device.
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K Sivan’s education and achievements
Born on April 14, 1957, he did BSc, Mathematics from Madurai University in 1977 and went on to do B.Tech, Aeronautics from Madras Institute of Technology, Chennai in 1980. He did his ME in Aerospace from IISc, Bangalore in 1982 and then completed his PhD in Aerospace, IIT, Bombay, 2007 after being a part of ISRO.
As ISRO he held senior positions like Project Director, GSLV between 2011 and 2013’ Director, LPSC (2014-2015), Director, VSSC (2015-2017), Member of Space Commission (2016-2017) and Vice-Chairman, ISRO Council (2016-2017) before finally becoming ISRO chairman.
He won several awards like “Shri Hari Om Ashram Prerit Dr.Vikram Sarabhai Research Award”, 1999; ISRO Merit Award, 2007; “Dr Biren Roy Space Science and/or Design Award”, 2011; Distinguished Alumnus Award from MIT Alumni Association, 2013; ISRO award for outstanding achievement in 2016; Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT-Bombay, 2017 and Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), Sathyabama University & Dr MGR University, Chennai.
He also won the Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award in 2019 and IEEE Simon Ramo Medal, shared with Byrana N. Suresh in 2020.