Chairman ISRO, Secretary DOSHome/About/Chairman ISRO, Secretary DOS
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 initial phase 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
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.