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Dr K Radhakrishnan

Dr K Radhakrishnan headed the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) between November 2009 and December 2014 as Chairman of the Space Commission, Secretary of the Department of Space and Chairman of ISRO. While he held the position of space chief, Radhakrishnan led ISRO to achieve 37 space missions, including several historical feats, including the Mars Orbiter Mission, flying the Indian Cryogenic Engine on GSLV, the first experimental flight of the GSLV Mk III, a re-entry experiment of an unmanned crew module, and new space capabilities through IRNSS (1A, 1B, 1C) for navigation, GSAT-7 for strategic communication, and RISAT-1 for microwave radar imaging.

Most notably, he is credited for steering India’s first planetary exploration mission to Mars (alias Mangalyaan) from concept to fruition within four years (2010-14), establishing India as the first country to have a successful mission to Mars in its first attempt and at a significantly low cost (INR 4.5 Billion). During his leadership, ISRO received the 2014 Gandhi Peace Prize, the 2014 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace and several other awards. He is an inspiring leader credited with nurturing leadership in the younger generation. Dr Radhakrishanan is presently an Honorary Distinguished Advisor in the Department of Space/ISRO.

Prior to this, he was the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (2007-2009), where he had started his career as an avionics engineer in 1971. He also held the position of Director of National Remote Sensing Agency (2005-2008) of the Department of Space, where he scripted India’s modern multi-mission ground station for Earth Observation Satellites. He had a brief tenure of five years (2000-2005) in the Ministry of Earth Sciences as Director of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) where he initiated the development of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning Centre.

He was the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur & Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Ropar, and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the IIT Council. He was also Chairperson of the Oversight Committee of the Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB-DST).

He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India; a Member of the International Academy of Astronautics; a Distinguished Fellow of the Astronautical Society of India and a Fellow of the Indian Geophysical Union. He is a member of the Indian delegation to the UN Committee on Peaceful Use of Outer Space since June 2006. Dr Radhakrishnan received the Padma Bhushan Award in 2014 for his contributions to Science and Engineering, especially in the field of Space Science and Technology.