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Isro gives farewell to its 'Man of Steel' K Radhakrishnan

Isro Chairman Radhakrishnan today retired from India's space research organisation

T E Narasimhan  |  Chennai 

Dr K Radhakrishnan

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) bid farewell to its chairman K Radhakrishnan, who superannuated today.

Though Radhakrishnan's tenure ended in August, his term was extended by four months till December 31 by the Centre “on functional grounds and in public interest”.

Isro, which refers to Radhakrishnan as a ‘Man of Steel’ on its facebook page, describes him as an efficient engineer, magnificent manager, an impeccable institution builder and an inspiring leader who has “triumphantly led Isro through many historic milestones in the last five years being at the helm of affairs”.

After delivering five consecutive successful PSLV missions, including the PSLV-C08 that lifted Chandrayaan-I, and leading several crucial technology development at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Radhakrishnan took the reins of India's space programme in November 2009.

With the 12 successful PSLV missions, the successful launch of GSLV with indigenous cryogenic stage, the Mars Orbiter Mission, LVM-3 experimental flight with CARE module, the six Insat/GSAT satellites, three navigation satellites and six earth observation satellites (including RISAT-1, the first microwave imaging satellite), Radhakrishnan is leaving Isro at its “most glorified pedestal ever”, it said.

After completing his graduation in electrical engineering from Kerala University, he joined VSSC in 1972 and rose through the ranks at a brisk pace. He was handpicked by Satish Dhawan – then chairman of Isro – to control and monitor the budget and economic analysis activities at the Isro’s headquarters, according to Isro. By then, he had completed his post graduation from the Indian Institute of Management- Bangalore.

During 1981-2000, he occupied several positions like project director for the establishment of regional remote sensing centres, director of budget and economic analyses, programme director for national natural resource management systems and mission director of integrated mission of sustainable development and deputy director at the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) in Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, he also completed his PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur.

During his stint in 2000-2005 at the Ministry of Earth Sciences, he established the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (Incois) and the India’s Tsunami Warning Centre.

He return to Isro as director of the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) and went on to become the director of VSSC, his alma mater at Isro. He was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2014, India’s third highest civilian award.

He was ranked among the top 10 scientific personalities in 2014 by Nature Science Journal, and was given The Allan D Emil Award of International Astronautical Federation.

During Radhakrishnan’s tenure, the controversial Antrix Corporation-Devas Multimedia deal was cancelled and a committee was formed to probe the deal. Based on the committee’s report, action was taken against his predecessor G Madhavan Nair.

The contract was inked between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia Private Limited on January 28, 2005, during Nair’s tenure as chairman of Isro.

Radhakrishnan’s tenure saw twin failures of GSLV in 2010. He then set up a committee to find out solution and after nearly two years of study, the committee submitted a report, whose findings helped Isro to sort out issues followed by a successful launch of GSLV with the indigenously developed cryogenic engine.

First Published: Wed, December 31 2014. 20:39 IST