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The Brains Behind Chandrayaan-3 Mission


Chandrayaan 3 launch: The landing – due at 6.04 pm – will be telecast live across the country.

New Delhi:

India’s Chandrayaan-3 satellite has been in the making for four years and many teams worked even as the country faced the Covid-19 pandemic. ISRO Chairman S Somanath says almost 1,000 engineers and scientists would have worked to get the nearly Rs 700 crore mission up and running. NDTV’s Pallava Bagla handpicks some who were critical to the making of Chandrayaan-3.

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S Somanath, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

S Somanath, an aerospace engineer, helped in the design of the rocket the Launch Vehicle Mark-3 or the Bahuballi rocket that lifted Chandrayaan-3 into orbit. He is seen as an able leader whom the scientists and engineers at ISRO look up to. As head of the Indian space agency, it was his responsibility to make sure the Chandrayaan-3 satellite was fully tested before it was rocketed up. An alumnus from the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, he can speak Sanskrit and has acted in a Sanskrit film titled Yaanam. His name Somanath means `Lord of the Moon’.

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Unnikrishnan Nair S, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, Thiruvananthapuram

He heads India’s key facility for research on rocketry. He is an aerospace engineer who is spearheading India’s effort to send an astronaut into space. An alumnus of the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, he was the first director of the Human Space Flight Center and many critical missions for Gaganyaan program have been led by him. The Launch Vehicle Mark 3 has had a 100 per cent success record under his leadership. He also writes short stories.

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Veeramuthuvel P, Project Director, Chandrayaan-3 mission, UR Rao Satellite Center, Bengaluru

Mr Veeramuthuvel, project director for the Chandrayaan-3 mission, has for the last four years lived a life that revolves around India’s third lunar outing. He has a Masters of Technology degree from Chennai and was involved with the Chandrayaan-2 and Mangalyaan missions. His heritage knowledge of the lander Vikram, which failed in 2019, has led to the making of a much more robust Chandrayaan-3 mission.

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Kalpana K, Deputy Project Director, Chandrayaan-3 mission, UR Rao Satellite Center, Bengaluru

Kalpana K kept the Chandrayaan-3 team working despite the hardships of the Covid pandemic. An engineer who has dedicated her life to making India’s satellites, she was involved both in the Chandrayaan-2 and Mangalyaan missions.

M Vanitha, Deputy Director, UR Rao Satellite Center, Bengaluru

M Vanitha was project director for the Chandrayaan-2 mission. An electronics systems engineer, she became the first woman in India to lead a lunar mission. Her knowledge of Chandrayaan-2 has been ably used by the team that fabricated Chandrayaan-3. She loves gardening.

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M Sankaran, Director, UR Rao Satellite Center, Bengaluru

M Sankaran is considered the powerhouse of ISRO because of his expertise in making novel power systems and solar arrays that go on to power satellites. With over three decades of experience in making satellites, his signature was present on Chandrayaan-1, Mangalyaan and Chandrayaan-2 satellites. It was his job to make sure the Chandrayaan-3 satellite was adequately hot and cold-tested and he helped create a lunar surface replica to test the strength of the lander. He has a Master degree in Physics.

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V Narayanan, Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Center, Thiruvananthapuram

A specialist on liquid propulsion engines, the Vikram lander will attempt the soft landing on the thrusters developed under his leadership. An alumnus of the IIT, Kharagpur and is a specialist on cryogenic engines. His personal stamp is on most rockets made by ISRO, including the Launch Vehicle Mark 3, which launched Chandrayaan-3. 

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BN Ramakrishna, Director, ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru

The Chandrayaan-3 satellite is literally dancing around the moon, thanks to commands sent by his institution. India’s largest dish antenna, a humongous 32-meter diameter dish situated outside Bengaluru, is being used to send commands to the Vikram lander. The final `twenty minutes of terror’ will be witnessed from a flying saucer shaped building at ISTRAC.



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