IIT Madras honours its 12 alumni who were part of ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 mission

ISRO chairman S Somanath is currently pursuing a PhD from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Madras.

IIT Madras honours its 12 alumni who were part of ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 mission The ISRO top scientists and engineers interacted with students of IIT Madras and talked about the missions. (Image: Official)
Anu Parthiban | Oct 9, 2023 - 3:37 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) honoured 12 of its alumni who were part of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-3.

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The event titled ‘Over the Moon with Team Chandrayaan-3’ was held on campus on Sunday. The top scientists and engineers from ISRO also interacted with students of IIT Madras and various government schools, colleges.

Among those honoured, S Unnikrishnan Nair completed his PhD from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Madras, in 2011 and is the director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), ISRO. P Veeramuthuvel who is the project director of Chandrayaan-3 completed his PhD in mechanical engineering in 2016 from the institute.

IIT-M said that the ISRO chairman S Somanath is currently pursuing a PhD from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Madras.

List of alumni honoured

ISRO scientists


S Unnikrishnan Nair

Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC)

P Veeramuthuvel

Project Director of Chandrayaan-3

P Arun Kumar

Deputy director of Earth Storable Engines and Stages (ESES)

John Tharakan

Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC)

Abdul Hameed

Scientist/Engineer at UR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC)

Rajeev Senan C

Division head, Monopropellant Systems & Components Division, LPSC


Scientist at URSC

HM Raghavendra Prasad

Head, Mechanism Assembly Section, Spacecraft Mechanisms Group, URSC

S Mathavaraj

Scientist at URSC

R Karthik

Scientist at LPSC

BS Phani Dinakar

Scientist at URSC

Sakthivel M

Scientist/Engineer, Mechanism and Development Division, Spacecraft Mechanisms Group, URSC

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Addressing the gathering, S Unnikrishnan Nair said: “This month, we will be having the first big mission of Gaganyaan from Sriharikota. We are going to demonstrate the in-flight system. In manned missions, it is not the mission success but it is the safety of the crew that counts. We are testing and ensuring that the escape system has got a very high reliability...The escape system will be activated in transonic conditions, which is Mach 1.2 and we will demonstrate how the crew will be rescued. We are all looking forward to that mission. There are many exciting missions in the future.”

S Unnikrishnan Nair added, “Another interesting mission that we did at Chitradurga Range was a winged aircraft that we call a ‘Reusable Launch Vehicle’. Unlike a conventional satellite, it is a winged body like the space shuttle... The last phase of this experiment, which is dropping from a high kilometre and landing, that too in a totally autonomous way using its intelligence, we could do and landed very close to the central line of the runway. The difference was only 18 cms. That was the type of accuracy we could achieve. And this technology, maybe in another two years’ timeframe, will mark another era of reusable launch vehicles, thereby reducing cost.”

He also talked about how his team used inflatable systems to reduce the speed of an aircraft or a rocket part from supersonic conditions to subsonic so as to recover the stage and reduce the cost. This was experimented using a sounding rocket and it was a successful experiment, the chief guest.

Delivering the keynote address, P Veeramuthuvel said: “It is by virtue of excellent teamwork and sheer perseverance that we have achieved this safe and soft landing technology on the lunar surface. It is not only an achievement for the scientific community but it has become the country’s achievement. This time, failure was not an option for us. But success did not come easily also. We crafted the lander in such a way that any path it takes, it should land. That was our strategy this time.”

Addressing the students on the occasion, IIT Madras director V Kamakoti said: “The days are gone when only computer science was deemed important. Please understand that every field of engineering has something great to contribute. This is a very clear message to all our BTechs and our aspiring school students who want to do engineering. Chandrayaan-3 stands as an outstanding example of our times. Take pride and love the subject that you are in. You can see here Mechanical Engineers, Aerospace, Chemical Engineers, and Civil Engineers, all of them put together in one project that has created success.”

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