|S. Somanath Quick Info
|5 ft 9 in
|Year of Birth
S. Somanath is an Indian aerospace engineer who is best known for spearheading Chandrayaan-3, the third mission in the Chandrayaan program – a series of exploration missions developed by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation, the national space agency of the country). In August 2023, Chandrayaan-3 touched down near the moon’s south pole, making India just the 4th country to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon and the first to do so near its south pole. Somanath is also well recognized in the world of space engineering for his contributions to launch vehicle design, particularly in the areas of launch vehicle systems engineering, structural design, structural dynamics, and pyrotechnics.
Sreedhara Panicker Somanath
S. Somanath was born in the year 1963.
Thuravoor, Cherthala, Alappuzha, Kerala, India
He splits his time between Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, and Bengaluru, Bayaluseeme, Karnataka, India.
Somanath had attended St. Augustine’s High School in Aroor, a town at the southern entry of Kochi, a port city in his home state of Kerala. He then completed his pre-university program at Maharaja’s College, a government college of higher education located in Ernakulam, a district in Kerala. Established in 1875, it is one of the oldest colleges in India.
He received his graduate degree in mechanical engineering from Thangal Kunju Musaliar College of Engineering in Karicode, a neighborhood of Kollam, a seaport and city in Kerala. Inaugurated in July 1958, it is the first government-aided engineering institution in the state.
Somanath then joined the Indian Institute of Science, a public research university in Bengaluru, the capital of the southern state of Karnataka. This prestigious institution has the highest citation-per-faculty among all the universities in the world. There, he attained a master’s degree in aerospace engineering with a specialization in dynamics and control.
He completed his Ph.D. thesis at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, a public institution located in Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, India’s southernmost state. It was the 3rd of the country’s renowned IITs to be established (in 1959) and is recognized as an ‘Institute of National Importance’ as well as an ‘Institute of Eminence’ by the Government of India.
- Father – V. Sreedhara Panicker (Teacher) (Deceased)
- Mother – Thankamma (Deceased)
- Siblings – Indu Kala (Younger Sister) (d. 1981), Manju S. Panicker (Younger Sister) (Banking Executive)
5 ft 9 in or 175 cm
73 kg or 161 lbs
Girlfriend / Spouse
Somanath has dated –
- Valsalakumari – Through his long-term marriage to a government employee named Valsalakumari, Somanath has 2 children – a daughter named Malika and a son named Madhav.
Race / Ethnicity
- Mildly stocky frame
- Receding hairline
- Affable smile
- Sports a thick mustache
S. Somanath Facts
- Somanath started his career in 1985 when he joined VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre), a major research center of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) that focuses on rockets and space vehicles for India’s satellite program.
- There, he was deeply involved with the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, one of India’s 3 major and active operational launch vehicles) project during its initial phase. He went on to reach the position of associate director at VSSC.
- Somanath was also the project director of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (now known as Launch Vehicle Mark-3 or LVM3, another of India’s 3 major and active operational launch vehicles) from June 2010 to 2014.
- Between 2015 and December 2017, he was the director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, a research and development center functioning under ISRO.
- Somanath was then appointed the director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre – a position that he held until December 2021. In January 2022, he took over as the chairman of ISRO.
- In October 2023, a few weeks after he successfully spearheaded ISRO‘s iconic Chandrayaan-3 moon exploration mission, the honorary degree of D.Litt. (Doctor of Literature) was conferred upon him by the Veer Madho Singh Bhandari Uttarakhand Technical University, a public university located in Dehradun, the capital of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.
- In November 2023, the Government of Karnataka honored Somanath with the prestigious Rajyotsava Prashasti, the second-highest civilian honor of Karnataka.
Featured Image by S. Somanath / Instagram