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Former ISRO chief K Sivan to be honoured with Kannada Rajyotsava award: A look at his awe-inspiring journey

Former ISRO chief K Sivan to be honoured with Kannada Rajyotsava award: A look at his awe-inspiring journey

Former ISRO chief K Sivan to be honoured with Kannada Rajyotsava award: A look at his awe-inspiring journey
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By CNBCTV18.com Nov 1, 2022 11:28:47 AM IST (Published)

Kailasavadivoo Sivan joined ISRO in 1982 and served the organisation for 40 years.

Former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) also known as India’s ‘rocket man’ Kailasavadivoo Sivan, is among the 67 winners of the Kannada Rajyotsava award this year. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, a gold medal and a citation, which will be distributed on November 1.

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Sivan headed ISRO from January 2018 to January 2022, during which the lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 was launched.


Sivan joined ISRO in 1982 and after almost 36 years of service, he became the chairman of ISRO in 2018. After four years, he handed over the chairmanship to S Somanath and on January 14, 2022, K Sivan retired as the ISRO chief.

During his tenure, ISRO saw an accelerated growth and India's name was etched in the world of space technology. Sivan had a huge role to play in shaping the world's outlook towards India and what the country's space industry can do.

Here's a look at the awe-inspiring story of a farmer’s son who became a scientist and the chief of India's Space Research Organisation

K Sivan was born on April 14, 1957, in a poor farmer’s family in Tamil Nadu. He was  hardworking, and he overcame all obstacles and secured BSc in Mathematics in 1977 from Madurai University. However, three of Sivan’s siblings couldn’t complete their higher education owing to the family’s financial situation. Sivan completed his BSc Mathematics with a 100 percent score and was allowed to pursue higher studies.

He then completed B-Tech in Aeronautics from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1980 and in 1982, Sivan got an ME in Aerospace from IISC Bengaluru. He then joined the ISRO the same year as a junior space scientist. While working at ISRO, Sivan completed his PhD in Aerospace in 2007 from IIT Bombay.

Thirty-six years after joining the ISRO, on January 15, 2018, Sivan became the ISRO Chief succeeding AS Kiran Kumar.

Before that, Sivan had held significant positions in agencies like Liquid Propulsions Systems Centre (Director, 2014-2015), Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (Director, 2015-2017) and Member of Space Commission (2016-2017).

Milestones and notable work

Under the leadership of K Sivan, ISRO was able to launch the first made-in-India navigation system NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation), like the GPS system in 2016.

Sivan was also responsible for four successful launches of GSLV Mk II (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II), the largest operational launch vehicles of India. They are designed, developed and operated by ISRO to launch satellites and other space objects into the Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) and Sivan was the Project Director during these missions.

The Gaganyaan Programme was approved under Sivan’s leadership pioneering a new vertical on Human Spaceflight into ISRO’s scope of activities.

K Sivan was also the Chief architect of ISRO’s Space Transportation programme from 2016 to 2021 and under his leadership, ISRO marked the successful flight test of SCRAMJET engine.

Sivan’s cost-effective strategy made the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) launch a grand success.

He was the chief mission architect when ISRO successfully launched as many as 104 constellation satellites during a single mission setting a record.

The Chandrayaan-2, India's second lunar mission, was also launched successfully under his leadership from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

Apart from space technology, Sivan has also contributed to the development of healthcare resources like advanced microprocessor artificial limb and artificial heart pump called Left Ventricle Assist Device.

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