Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan has steered the Indian Space programme gloriously for over 9 years as Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, of Space Commission and Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Space, before laying down his office on August 27, 2003. He was earlier the Director of ISRO Satellite Centre, where he oversaw the activities related to the development of new generation spacecraft, Indian National Satellite (INSAT-2) and Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS-1A & 1B) as well as scientific satellites. He was also the Project Director for India’s first two experimental earth observation satellites, BHASKARA-I & II and subsequently was responsible for overall direction of the first operational Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-1A. Dr. Kasturirangan took his Bachelor of Science with Honors and Master of Science degrees in Physics from Bombay University and received his Doctorate Degree in Experimental High Energy Astronomy in 1971 working at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. Under his leadership, as Chairman, ISRO, the space programme has witnessed several major milestones including the successful launching and operationalisation of the India’s prestigious launch vehicle, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and more recently, the first successful flight testing of the all important Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). Further, he has also overseen the design, development and launching of the world’s best civilian satellites, IRS-1C and 1D, realization of the second generation and initiation of third generation INSAT satellites, besides launching ocean observation satellites IRS-P3/P4. These efforts have put India as a pre-eminent space-faring nation among the handful of six countries that have major space programmes.
As an Astrophysicist, Dr. Kasturirangan’s interest includes research in high energy X-ray and gamma ray astronomy as well as optical astronomy. He has made extensive and significant contributions to studies of Cosmic x-ray sources, celestial gamma-ray and effect of cosmic x-rays in the lower atmosphere. Dr. Kasturirangan is a member of several important scientific academies, both within India and abroad. He is presently the President of the Indian Academy of Sciences at Bangalore and General President of the Indian Science Congress. He is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy, National Academy of Sciences of India, Indian National Academy of Engineering, Astronautical Society of India, National Telematics Forum, The Indian Meteorological Society and The Third World Academy of Sciences. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunications Engineers, Founder Member of the Astronomical Society of India, Life Member of the Indian Physics Association, Indian Science Congress Association and Indian Society of Remote Sensing and Honorary Fellow of the Aeronautical Society of India and Kerala Academy of Sciences. He is also a Member of the International Astronomical Union and the International Academy of Astronautics and is a member of its Board of Trustees. He has chaired some of the prestigious international committees, such as, the International Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), Panel for Space Research in Developing countries of COSPAR/ICSU, and the committee meeting at senior official level of UN-ESCAP, that led to the adoption of the “Delhi Declaration” by the Ministers of the region (1999-2000).
He is also the Chairman of the Governing Board of the UN Centre for Space Science & Technology Education (UN-CSSTE), of the Board of Governors of IIT Chennai, of the Governing Council of the Raman Research Institute and Research Council of the National Aerospace Laboratory. He has won several awards including Shanti SwarupBhatnagar Award in Engineering, ShriHari Om Ashram Dr.Vikram Sarabhai Prerit Award in Aerospace, M.P.Birla Memorial Award in Astronomy, ShriM.M.Chugani Memorial Award in Applied Science, H.K.Firodia Award in Science Technology, RathindraPuraskar by Visvabharati, Santiniketan, Dr.M.N.Saha Birth Centenary Medal for outstanding contributions in the field of Space. He has been conferred Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. He has published more than 200 papers, both in international and national journals in the areas of astronomy, space science, space applications and has edited 6 books .