Former chair



Dr. K Sivan graduated from Madras Institute of Technology in Aeronautical engineering in 1980. He took his ME in Aerospace engineering from IISc, Bangalore in 1982. Subsequently, he completed his PhD in Aerospace engineering from IIT, Bombay in 2006.

He joined ISRO in 1982 in PSLV Project and has contributed immensely towards end to end mission planning, mission design, mission integration and analysis for all the launch vehicle programs

During his career at ISRO, he has held many responsibilities like Group Director,Mission Simulations and Synthesis Group, Project Director,RLV-TD, Deputy Director, AERO and Structures and Chief Controller, VSSC. He was Director, LPSC from July 2014 till May 2015 and Director, VSSC from June 2015 till January 15, 2018.He Assumed the charge of Secretary, Department of Space & Chairman, Space Commission on January 15, 2018.

He is the chief mission architect for 104 satellites launched in a single mission of PSLV (PSLV C37). As Project Director, GSLV, he led the end to end design revisit on account of two consecutive failures of GSLV. The design issues were resolved and the launch vehicle was operationalized. This also included the flight testing of indigenous cryo stage. GSLV successfully launched the South Asia Satellite and is identified for the future Chandrayaan II mission planned in April 2018. Successful accomplishment of first development flight of GSLV Mk-III which launched heaviest satellite from Indian soil was under his leadership. He is the Chief architect of ISRO’s Space Transportation and technology roadmap for meeting the future requirements as well as augmenting the existing capabilities in a phased manner. He led the Flight testing of SCRAMJET engine flight test as well as technology demonstration flight of re-usable launch vehicle (RLV-TD). As Project Director of RLV-TD, he has significant contribution in RLV-TD vehicle design including control & guidance and mission management strategies and flight demonstration. He evolved a cost effective strategy for Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) launch using PSLV. In addition to this, he is the primary developer of 6D trajectory simulation software SITARA which is used for mission planning of ISRO launch vehicles. He also is the primary developer of Day of launch – wind biasing strategy for launch vehicles which has enabled all weather launch. He has implemented the strategy for upper stage (PS4) restart capability for PSLV which improves mission versatility by injecting different payloads in different orbits in a single mission. He has significantly contributed in performance and reliability enhancement of all ISRO launch vehicles.

He has established Mission Synthesis and Simulation Facility, Parallel computing facility and Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Facility for ISRO’s launch vehicle program. In addition to this he has provided thrust to many technology development initiatives for both launch vehicle as well as societal applications.

He initiated technology development programs for Li-Ion cells, electric propulsion as well as advanced avionics for ISRO’s launch vehicle program. Li-Ion cell and electric propulsion is inducted into Launch Vehicles as well as Satellites. He also initiated the activities for commercialization of Li-ion cells through industry for societal use.

Considering the multidisciplinary design knowledge base, he initiated discussion with medical fraternity for development of medical devices in key areas. The proposals for development of advanced microprocessor controlled artificial limb and artificial heart pump called Left Ventricle Assist Device is now taken up for development in association with industry partners for prototype development as well as field trials.

Based on hands-on experience in all the areas of Space Transportation System design and realization, published a unique book in Nov 2015 “Integrated Design for Space Transportation System” published by Springer which highlights the end to end integrated design aspects, interactions between various systems and interdependencies of various launch vehicle systems. This book has been very well received both by students as well as practicing professionals

He has received numerous awards throughout his career which includes Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from Dr MGR University, Chennai in March 2017, The Distinguished Alumnus Award 2017 from IIT Bombay in March 2017, ISRO award for outstanding achievement in 2016, Doctor of Science (HonorisCausa) from Sathyabama University, Chennai in April 2014, The Distinguished Alumnus Award 2013 from MIT Alumni Association, Chennai, Dr Biren Roy Space science award for the year 2011, ISRO merit award for the year 2007 and ShriHari Om Ashram PreritDr. Vikram Sarabhai Research award for the year 1999