Unveiling the Masterminds: Architects Behind Chandrayaan-3’s Lunar Odyssey

Embarking on a celestial odyssey, Chandrayaan-3, India’s latest lunar quest, promises to unveil captivating mysteries of the Moon. It aims to further explore the Moon’s surface, building upon the success of previous Chandrayaan missions. Chandrayaan-3 will focus on landing technology and seeks to achieve a soft landing on the lunar surface, contributing to India’s space exploration efforts.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission is expected to land on the moon at 6.04 PM on August 23, 2023.

The masterminds orchestrating the intricacies of Chandrayaan-3’s design and execution are the brilliant minds at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Led by a team of dedicated scientists, engineers, and space experts, ISRO’s relentless pursuit of technological innovation and cosmic discovery propels India’s lunar aspirations. These visionary individuals work harmoniously to shape Chandrayaan-3 into a testament to India’s prowess in space exploration. Let’s have a look at where these masterminds hailed from –

Kailasavadivoo Sivan

Chairman ISRO (2018-22)

At the helm of India’s celestial dreams stands a visionary leader, the former Chairman of ISRO- Kailasavadivoo Sivan. An Indian space scientist who served as the Secretary of the Department of Space and Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation and Space Commission. He has previously served as the 12th Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and the Liquid Propulsion System Centre.

He studied in a Tamil Medium Government School in Mela Sarakkalvilai Village and later in Vallankumaranvilai in Kanyakumari district. He is the first graduate of his family. Later Sivan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology in 1980. He then got a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Banglore in 1982, and started working in ISRO. He earned a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 2006. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, the Aeronautical Society of India, and the Systems Society of India.

In a celestial tribute to the unwavering dedication, the Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award of 2019 was bestowed upon the eminent Dr. K. Sivan.

Sreedhara Panicker Somanath

Chairman of ISRO (2022 – Present)

Sreedhara Panicker Somanath is an Indian aerospace engineer serving as the 10th chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation. S Somanath is considered one of the best brains behind India’s ambitious moon mission. In the past, he has served as the director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre — the primary centers for developing rocket technologies for the space agency. Since he took charge, crucial missions like Chandrayaan-3, Aditya-L1 (Sun Mission), and Gaganyaan have gained momentum.

Somanath did his schooling at St. Augustine’s High School, Aroor, and completed his pre-university program at Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam. He received his graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Thangal Kunju Musaliar College of Engineering, Kollam, Kerala University, and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore with a specialization in dynamics and control.

In recognition of his contributions to the field of science, Somanath was awarded a Doctorate of Science (Honoris Causa) on 25th September by SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Tamil Nadu, on the occasion of the 18th Annual Convocation.

Ritu Karidhal Srivastava

ISRO Scientist, the Mastermind behind Chandrayaan-3

Ritu Karidhal Srivastava, who is popularly known as India’s ‘Rocket Woman‘, spearheaded the entire mission. She is a senior scientist at ISRO and was the Deputy Operations Director for India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), Mangalyaan. 

A distinguished Scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), she did her Schooling at St Anjani’s Public School and Navyug Kanya Vidyalaya, Lucknow. Later did B.Sc from the Mahila Vidyalaya PG College, Lucknow, and MSc in Physics from Lucknow University in 1996. She also pursued MTech from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru.

Ritu Karidhal Srivastava joined ISRO in 1997, and she has received several awards for her work, including the ISRO Young Scientist Award in 2007, the ISRO Team Award for MOM in 2015, the ASI Team Award, and the Women Achievers in Aerospace in 2017.

P Veeramuthuvel

Project Director, Chandrayaan-3

P Veeramuthuvel took charge as Chandrayaan-3 project director in 2019. Before his current assignment, he served as a deputy director in the Space Infrastructure Programme Office at the Isro headquarters. Known for his technical acumen, Veeramuthuvel also played a key role in the Chandrayaan-2 mission, being the point person for its negotiations with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

He studied at the Railroad School in Villupuram, attended a private polytechnic college, and earned a diploma in mechanical engineering. Yet, his advantage in space and the craving to accomplish something in that field drove him away from that work. After completing his engineering studies at a private college in Tambaram and later he received his doctoral degree from IIT Madras where he conducted significant aerospace research.

S Unnikrishnan Nair

Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC)

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark –III, which was renamed as Launch Vehicle Mark-III, rocket, was developed by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at Thumba in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram district. Being the head of VSSC, S Unnikrishnan Nair and his team are in charge of various vital functions of the crucial mission.

He is a B-Tech graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Kerala University, ME in Aerospace Engineering from IISc, Banglore, and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Madras

He has received the ISRO team excellence award for his contributions to SRE, ISRO Excellence Award as Team Leader for CARE in 2014, the ISRO Individual Merit Award for the year 2014 for his contributions towards technology development for manned space mission, the ISRO Excellence Award as Team Leader for Crew Escape System Pad Abort Test in 2018, Atmanirbharata Award from Indian Society of Analytical Science in 2022 and National Systems Gold Medal from Systems Society of India in 2022.

A Rajarajan

Chairman of the Launch Authorisation Board (LAB)

A Rajarajan is a distinguished scientist and currently the Director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota, principal SpacePort of India. Rajarajan is an expert in the area of Composites. As the Director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, his priorities were on the fruition of Solid Motor Production and Launch Complex Infrastructure to meet Isro’s increased demand for launches including Launches for the Human Space Programme (Gaganyaan) and SSLV. The Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) gives the go-ahead for the launch.

He did his Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering in 1987. A recipient of the ISRO Merit Award in 2015, ISRO Team Excellence Awards in 2010, 2011 & 2015, and a Member of several professional bodies, namely ISAMPE, AeSI, etc.

M Sankaran

Director, U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC)

M Sankaran took over as Director of U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), the lead centre in India for the design, development, and realization of all satellites of Isro, in June 2021. He is currently leading the satellite fraternity to meet the national requirements in areas like communication, navigation, remote sensing, meteorology, and interplanetary exploration.

He has been awarded ISRO’s Performance Excellence award for the Year 2017 and ISRO Team Excellence awards in 2017 and 2018. He has about 50 publications to his credit in Peer Reviewed Journals and International Conferences.

As Chandrayaan-3 prepares to embark on its lunar adventure, we stand in awe of the brilliant minds that have meticulously sculpted this celestial dream. With the genius of these masterminds, India’s technological prowess soars higher, echoing across the cosmos as a testament to human curiosity and boundless innovation.