As the countdown for India’s third lunar mission- Chandrayaan-3 – is slowly closing in, people are waiting and praying fervently for the success of this mission. Chandrayaan-3 is set to launch on July 14 at 2:35 PM from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The indigenously made rocket will attempt a soft landing on the moon and conduct some chemical experiments.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission is ever so crucial after the Chandrayaan-2 mission did not go as planned by the ISRO. While we are glued to our screens with bated breath watching the live stream of the launch countdown, let’s take a look at the key scientists who are behind this important mission.
Considered one of the brains behind India’s lunar mission, S Somanath is the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation. Previously, he served as the director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram and director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. Under his tenure, ISRO has worked on important missions such as Chandrayaan-3, Aditya-L1 (sun mission), and Gaganyaan.
He is the brains behind the Chandrayaan-3 project. P Veeramuthuvel is the project director of India’s third lunar mission. He took charge of this mission in 2019. He has also played a key role in the Chandrayaan-2 mission. An alumnus of IIT Madras, he is the point person for negotiations with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Known as the ‘Rocket Woman of India’, Ritu Karidhal has been associated with the ISRO since 1997. She has been a part of the Mangalyaan mission and the Chandrayaan-2 mission. This time, she is the mission director of Chandrayaan-3. She is responsible for the overall planning, execution, and coordination of the mission. She is also responsible for overseeing this specific mission and the launch event.
S Unnikrishnan Nair
The Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3) rocket that is being used for this mission was developed by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at Thumba in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram district. As the director of VSSC, S Unnikrishnan Nair and his team are in charge of various important functions.
A distinguished scientist and the Director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Rajarajan is an expert when it comes to Composites. He is the chairman of the Launch Authorisation Board (LAB). The LAB gives the go-ahead for the launch.
As the Director of U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), he is responsible for making sure that the satellites meet the national requirements in the areas like communication, navigation, remote sensing, meteorology and inter-planetary exploration. URSC is India’s lead centre for the design and development of all satellites that are used by ISRO.
P Madhuri is the one who will be visible to the people. She is an official at the Sriharikota rocket port and the voice behind the rocket launch commentary.
P Madhuri isn’t the only woman scientist behind Chandrayaan-3. On the condition of anonymity, a senior official of ISRO told IANS that, “There are about 54 female engineers/scientists who worked directly in the Chandrayaan-3 mission. They are associate and deputy project directors and project managers of various systems working at different centres.”
Apart from them, other key scientists include a team which looks into the operational aspects of Chandrayaan-3. This team is led by mission director Mohan Kumar. Then we have the vehicle director, Biju C Thomas.
Here’s hoping for the mission’s success.