Meet the team of ISRO scientists behind the Chandrayaan-2 mission
India's historic attempt to make a soft landing on the moon's unexplored south pole remained unsuccessful as ISRO lost contact with the Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wasn't disheartened and instead chose to appreciate the hard work of the ISRO scientists that led us this far. Let's take a look at the team that made Chandrayaan-2 possible.
Kailasavadivoo Sivan: ISRO Chairman
As ISRO chairman, Kailasavadivoo Sivan (62), has been the face of the Chandrayaan-2 mission. Sivan, who was appointed ISRO chairman in 2018, is often attributed for the frugality of the space agency's missions as he was raised on a farm in Kanyakumari. The first graduate in his family, Sivan pushed class barriers to become a successful aerospace engineer, joining ISRO's PSLV project in 1982.
Sivan swiftly formed team to fix technical-snag during July launch
Earlier in July, when the Chandrayaan-2 launch was called off due to a leak in the helium bottle of the cryogenic engine of GSLV-MkIII, Sivan swiftly formed a core team to resolve the snag and the mission kicked-off successfully a week later.
Muthayya Vanitha: Chandrayaan-2 Project Director
Then, we have Muthayya Vanitha who is the Chandrayaan-2's Project Director, making the mission the first female-led inter-planetary project. However, initially, Vanitha was reluctant to step into the role, and had to be persuaded by Chandrayaan-1 Project Director M Annadurai who believed her to be an expert in data-handling. Vanitha, who's from the UR Rao Satellite Center, has previously worked with Cartosat-1, Oceansat-2 and Megha-Tropiques teams.
Ritu Karidhal: Chandrayaan-2 Mission Director
Vanitha is joined by another woman scientist, Ritu Karidhal, who's the Mission Director for Chandrayaan-2. Karidhal has worked at ISRO for the past 22 years and is a graduate of Lucknow University and the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. Karidhal is also from the URSC and took up key duties in the Mars Orbiter Mission of 2013 as its Deputy Director (Operations).
VSSC Director Dr. S Somanath responsible for GSLV Mk-III
Further, Dr. S Somanath is the Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), which provided the GSLV MkIII launcher for Chandrayaan-2. A mechanical engineer by training, Somanath was instrumental in resolving the glitch in the cryogenic engine in GSLV Mk-III, which led to a week's delay in Chandrayaan-2's lift-off. He has been involved with the GSLV Mk-III project from its beginning.
USRC Director P Kunhikrishnan oversaw construction of spacecraft
Next in the team is P Kunhikrishnan. As the Director of the UR Rao Satellite Center (USRC), Kunhikrishnan (58) assisted with key spacecraft and lander functions for Chandrayaan-2. Kunhikrishnan, a rocket engineer-turned-satellite fabricator, also oversaw the construction of the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft. In the past, he has served as the Director of the Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, and mission director for 13 PSLV missions.
J Jayaprakash: Mission Director for Chandrayaan-2 launch
ISRO Rocket specialist J Jayaprakash, the Mission Director for the Chandrayaan-2 launch, averted disaster on the original day of the launch (July 15) when the mission was temporarily halted. He was assisted by Vehicle Director Raghunatha Pillai. Jayaprakash, who hails from Kollam, is an alumnus of Madras Institute of Technology, Fatima Matha National College, and IISc Bangalore, and had joined the VSSC in 1985.
Overall, 16,500 people worked to make Chandrayaan-2 possible
Although these are only a few scientists heading the Chandrayaan-2, the mission did not see the light of day without the immeasurable toil of 16,500 people, NDTV reported. While ISRO may have lost touch with the Vikram lander, the Rs. 978 crore mission is not entirely a lost cause. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter will continue to take pictures of the moon over the next year.