Sri.S. Somanathis a “Distinguished Scientist” grade officer and currently the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananathapuram, the lead Centre responsible for all launch vehicle programs of ISRO. Till June, 2015, he was the Associate Director (Projects) of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and also the Project Director of GSLV Mk-III Launch vehicle. Under his leadership as the Project Director, the first Experimental flight of LVM3-X/CARE mission was successfully accomplished on 18th December, 2014.
He joined ISRO in 1985 and was a team leader for Integration of PSLV during its early development phase and during the first flight of PSLV and the successful second flight PSLV-D2. As Project Manager he handled areas of mechanisms, pyro-technique systems and satellite launch service management. 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.
He joined GSLV MkIII Project during 2003 and was the Deputy Project Director responsible for Overall design of the vehicle, Mission design, Structural design and Integration. He became the Project Director of GSLV Mk-III from June 2010.
He has been the Deputy Director of the ‘Structures’ Entity in VSSC and also the Deputy Director of ‘Propulsion and Space Ordinance Entity’ in VSSC till November, 2014.
After taking charge as the Director, LPSC in July 2015, he led the team of LPSC to realize Indian cryogenic stages for four successful missions of GSLV and eleven successful missions of PSLV with the liquid stages realized by LPSC. Fifteen successful satellites were also launched using propulsion systems supplied form LPSC. The development of CE20 cryogenic engine with 20 ton thrust and C25 stage was completed and GSLV Mk-III-D1 successful flight was accomplished. He is giving leadership for the development of 200 ton Semicryo engine for future Launch vehicles, throttleable engines for lander craft of Chanradrayaan-2 and high thrust electric propulsion systems for future all Electric propulsion satellites.
Shri Somanath is an expert in the area of system engineering of Launch vehicles. He made contributions in PSLV and GSLV MkIII in their overall architecture, propulsion systems, structural and structural dynamics, separation systems, vehicle integration and integration procedures development.
Shri Somanath took his B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering from TKM College of Engineering, Kollam, Kerala University with a 2nd Rank from the University and Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore with specialization in Structures, Dynamics and Control with Gold Medal.
Sathyabham Institute of Science & Technology conferred Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) in July 2018 for his outstanding contributions in the system engineering and design of launch vehicles. He received the ‘Merit Award” and ‘Performance Excellence award’ from ISRO and a ‘Team excellence award’ for GSLV Mk-III development. He received in 2018, the “Janasewa Award 2018” instituted by Sivaparvathy Cultural Society, “Marthoma Educational Technical Training & Research Centre Award-2018” instituted by Marthoma college of Science & Technology, “Lifetime achievement Award instituted by TKM College Trust, Kollam and “Platinum Jubilee Award” from Aerospace Department of IISC, Bangalore. He is the recipient of the ‘Space Gold Medal’ from Astronautical Society of India and a Gold Medal from IISc, Bangalore for his Master’s Programme.
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 Corresponding member of International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).
Shri Somanath has widely travelled as delegate and representative of India in UN-COPOUS at Vienna, International Astronautical Federation (IAF)’s International Program Committee & Spring meetings at Paris, International Astronautical Congress (IAC) at Hyderabad (2007), Prague (2013), Jerusalem (2015), Mexico (2016) and Adelaide (2017). He is a member of the Technical committee for Space Transportation and also International Project/Program Management Committee of IAF.
He has published 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.