Shri S. Somanath

Chairman ISRO, Secretary DOS

chairmanShri S. Somanath assumed the charge of Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman, Space Commission on 14 January 2022. In his previous assignment he was Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), the lead Centre responsible for Launch vehicle technology development. Prior to that he has been the Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) at Valiamala, Thiruvananathapuram till December 2017. He was the Associate Director (Projects) of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and also the Project Director of GSLV Mk-III Launch vehicle. Under his leadership as the Project Director, the first Experimental flight of LVM3-X/CARE mission was successfully accomplished on 18th December, 2014.

He joined VSSC in 1985 and was a team leader for Integration of PSLV during the development phase. As Project Manager, PSLV he handled areas of mechanisms, pyro-technique systems, integration and satellite launch service management during PSLV continuation program till the launch of PSLV-C4. He conceived and executed the first time launches of commercial mini satellites and developed small satellite mounting and separation systems which have successfully deployed many commercial satellites in PSLV. He joined GSLV Mk-III Project during 2003 in the intial pahse itself and was the Deputy Project Director responsible for overall design of the vehicle, mission design, structural design and integration.

Shri Somanath is an expert in the area of system engineering of launch vehicles. His contributions in PSLV and GSLV Mk-III were in their overall architecture, propulsion stages design, structural and structural dynamics designs, separation systems, vehicle integration and integration procedures development. He has been the Deputy Director of the ‘Structural Engineering’ Entity in VSSC and also the Deputy Director of ‘Propulsion and Space Ordnance Entity’ in VSSC till November, 2014.

As Director, LPSC he led the team to complete the development and qualification of CE20 cryogenic engine and the C25 stage which was successfully flown in GSLV Mk-III D1 flight. The development of throttleable engines for lander craft of Chanradrayaan-2 was another important development activity. First time successful flight of 18mN thrust electric propulsion system in GSAT-9, development of 75mN and 300mN thrust Stationary Plasma thrusters were accomplished under his leadership.

He assumed the charge of Director, VSSC in January 2018. Under his leadership, VSSC has achieved significant feats like Crew Escape System demonstration through Pad Abort Test (PAT), launch of GSLV Mk-III M1/Chandrayaan 2, launch of 50th PSLV, PS4 orbital platform experiments etc. Recently he spearheaded the development of critical systems including crew module systems, human rating of GSLV Mk-III, integrated vehicle health monitoring system, etc., for the upcoming Gaganyaan mission. He mentors the development of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) with various innovative technologies and production methodologies for cost and time optimisation.

Shri Somanath took his B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering from TKM College of Engineering, Kollam and Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore with specialization in Structures, Dynamics and Control.

He is a Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), Fellow of Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI), Astronautical Society of India (ASI) and a member of International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).

He has published several papers in journals & seminars in the area of structural dynamics and control, dynamic analysis of separation mechanisms, vibration & acoustic testing, launch vehicle design and launch services management.

Shri Somanath has widely travelled as delegate and representative of India in UN-COPOUS at Vienna, International Astronautical Federation (IAF)’s International Program Committees, International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held at different countries. He is the Vice President of IAF in charge of the Technical activities and a member of the Technical committee for Space Transportation and International Project/Programme Management Committee.