Sunday, February 2, 2014

Saluting ISRO – India’s Pride Dr Radhakrishnan, Chairman of ISRO – A scientist, spiritual person and an artiste

Dr K Radhakrishnan as an artiste and a spiritual person - Photo courtesy: The Week
Dr K Radhakrishnan as an artiste and a spiritual person - Photo courtesy: The Week
Launch of GSLV D5


After 20 years of continuous research and a few failures,  Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) team of scientists successfully launched the GSLV-D5 rocket with indigenous cryogenic engine on 5th January 2014.   They also successfully injected the 1982-Kg GSAT-14 communication satellite into its orbit.

Earlier on 5th November 2013, the ISRO team successfully launched Mangalyan, Mars Orbiter Spacecraft, which  is now on its way, to reach Mars in September 2014.

Both these events are significant milestones in the Indian space programme and ISRO has made every Indian proud.  The credit goes to the patriotic and committed team of scientists under the leadership of Dr K Radhakrishnan, Chairman of ISRO.

Dr Radhakrishnan, a team builder and leader

Dr Radhakrishnan (64) hails from Irinjalakuda, an ancient town near Thrissur (Kerala). He joined ISRO in 1971 as a graduate in engineering. He completed his post-graduation in Management from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore and acquired a doctorate from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, while working in ISRO.
After serving in the space organisation at various levels, he took over the chairmanship of ISRO in November 2009.  As chairman, he has been consistently displaying leadership qualities.

In April 2010, when the much anticipated indigenously built GSLV D3 mission failed due to a technical error in the Indian Cryogenic Stage, Dr Radhakrishnan appeared before the waiting media and explained the reasons, with an assurance to the nation that the mission would be successfully re-launched within a year.  Within three months when the PSLV was launched successfully, Dr Radhakrishnan introduced his team of key persons involved in the project, to the media and encouraged them to speak to the media about the mission. This gesture reflected the true spirit of leadership and teamwork of Dr Radhakrishnan.

During the recent launch of GSLV D5 with indigenous cryogenic engine, he paid tributes to  Dr U R Rao, former ISRO chairman and the brain behind the proposed mission 20 years earlier, and gave due credit to him in the media conference.  When the Prime Minister and later President of India after witnessing the successful launch of the two space missions met Dr Radhakrishnan at Sriharikota, Dr Radhakrishnan had his entire team of scientists with him to meet them.

On 25th January 2014, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan Award for his  contribution to the nation.

Exclusive interview with PreSense - Future plans

In an exclusive telephonic interview with K. Srinivasan, Editor-in-Chief of the ezine, PreSense, Dr Radhakrishnan said that India currently held the 6th global position in space mission achievements, after USA, Russia, Europe, Japan and China.  He also proudly added that currently, India ranked topmost in ‘space applications’ and that many countries were seeking guidance from India in this area of expertise. He said that India’s space programme was ‘application-oriented’ in areas of education, disaster management, telecommunication, environmental protection, and the like.

When asked about future plans, he said  that ISRO was already working on high power communication in K-A band, which would be three times higher in output than the present one.  In microwave remote sensing, he said that ISRO was  moving towards X, S and L bands, in addition to C band. ISRO would be launching Chandrayan II with indigenous lander and rover. On the launch vehicle side, GSLV Mark 3, which could take 4000 kg payload (as against the present capacity of 2200 kg) would be launched soon.   Dr Radhakrishnan sai
d that GSLV Mark 3 would reduce India’s dependence on other countries in satellite launch. An experimental flight of GSLV-Mk 3 is planned to study its performance during the crucial atmospheric phase of the flight and here the cryogenic engine will not be activated.

“ISRO is planning its first developmental  flight to put a satellite in the orbit by 2016.  We are also developing high power ‘semi-cryogenic engine’ with 200-ton thrust.  With these, we can move to the next level of launch vehicle to carry 6 tons to 10 tons.  Our team is doing the ‘phase zero study’ for this purpose”, said  Dr Radhakrishnan  proudly.

A spiritual person and an artiste

This internationally renowned rocket scientist is an artist besides being spiritual. He visits the Tirupathi Temple, before and after the launch of every vehicle.  “I have been visiting the temples since my childhood days.  I have trekked to Sabarimala 52 times, starting from my childhood, and I have taken the harshest route to the Temple thrice”, said  Dr Radhakrishnan humbly.

“I love reading spiritual books and I am deeply influenced by the Bhagwad Gita, which I read regularly. I believe in the power of God," he added.  

Many people may not know that this rocket scientist is also a trained ‘kathakali’ artiste.  He loves carnatic music and practises vocal music every early morning, in the midst of his tight schedule.  He begins and ends his day listening to Carnatic music.

Remembering the Gurus

Before signing off the telephonic conversation, Dr Radhakrishnan recollected his days with Dr Vikram Sarabhai, Dr Satish Dhawan and Dr U R Rao, the great architects of Indian Space Mission and remembered the inspiration he received from them.

No doubt, the scientist, the spiritualism, and the artiste in Dr Radhakrishnan has influenced in making him a great leader too.

PreSense congratulates Dr Radhakrishnan and his ISRO team for making India proud.



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