Shri.S. Somanath took charge as Director, VSSC on 22nd January, 2018 after a two and a half year’s stint as the Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Valiamala, Thiruvananathapuram. Previously, he served as the Associate Director (Projects) of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and also as Project Director of GSLV Mk-III Launch vehicle. Under his leadership, the first Experimental flight of LVM3-X/CARE mission was successfully accomplished on 18th December, 2014. 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 with a Gold Medal. Shri.S. Somanath joined VSSC in 1985 and was a team leader for Integration of PSLV during the early phases. As Project Manager, PSLV, he handled areas of mechanisms, pyro systems, integration and satellite launch service management. 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 was the Project Director of GSLV Mk-III from June 2010 to 2014. Shri. Somanath is an expert in the area of system engineering of Launch vehicles. His contributions in PSLV and GSLV MkIII 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 ‘Structures’ Entity in VSSC and also the Deputy Director of ‘Propulsion and Space Ordnance Entity’ in VSSC till November, 2014. Since July 2015, he led the team of LPSC to complete the development and qualification of CE20 cryogenic engine and the C25 stage and was successfully flown in GSLV MkIII-D1 flight. He also played a key role in three successful missions of GSLV with indigenous cryogenic stages and eleven successful missions of PSLV with the liquid stages realized by LPSC. Fifteen successful satellite missions were also accomplished with the propulsion systems supplied form LPSC.
He energized the development activities of high thrust Semi-cryogenic engine and conceived a fast track hardware realization and test program. The development of throttleable engines for lander craft of Chanradrayaan-2 and first time successful flight of electric propulsion system in GSAT-9 were some of the achievements. He is the recipient of the ‘Space Gold Medal’ from Astronautical Society of India. He received the ‘Merit Award” and ‘Performance Excellence award’ from ISRO and a ‘Team excellence award’ for GSLV Mk-III development 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 at Paris, International Astronautical Congress (IAC) at Hyderabad, Prague, Jerusalem, Mexico and Adelaide. 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.