Dr. K Sivan, currently the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), will take over as the new Chairman of India’s space agency ISRO and will also be the Secretary of the nation’s Department of Space. He will take over from the current Chairman, A. S. Kiran Kumar, with a tenure of three years.
The appointment was made yesterday, 10 January 2018, with the approval of the Appointments Committee of the Indian Cabinet.
K Sivan current leads VSSC, which was established in 1963 and is now ISRO’s largest facility. The centre is in charge of rocket and satellite development, for which Sivan spearheaded various projects such as the record-breaking launch of 104 satellites on a single rocket in February 2017. He began his career at the centre in 2011, when he was Project Director of the GSLV Mk-III, India’s first launch vehicle with an indigenous cryogenic upper stage, which successfully placed the GSAT-19 into orbit in June 2017.
A trained aerospace engineer, Sivan’s appointment continues the ISRO tradition of hiring and appointing India-trained scientists to top positions. Like his predecessor A. S. Kiran Kumar, as well as every ISRO Chairman since Satish Dhawan (retired 1984) Sivan was educated entirely in India and holds a PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.
Under Sivan’s leadership in the next 3 years, ISRO is expected to conduct a number of very important missions, including India’s second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 this year, its first solar mission Aditya in 2019 or 2020, and its second Mars mission Mangalyaan 2 in 2021. Under him, ISRO will also conduct subsequent GSLV Mk-III launches, develop a smaller version of its PSLV rocket meant to launch small satellites, and further develop its reuseable launch vehicle and manned spaceflight programmes.
The news comes two days before ISRO conducts its first launch of 2018, which is set to take place on 12 January. The launch will see the PSLV launch earth observation satellite Cartosat-2F and approximately 30 other satellites.