Chandrayaan-3 Triumph: Meet the Team Leaders Who Made It Possible
Written By Sanjay Kumar
On 23 August 2023, the successful touchdown of the Chandrayaan-3 mission’s lander on the Moon’s surface set the global discourse abuzz with admiration for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This significant leap by the space agency has firmly established India as the fourth nation to achieve a triumphant soft landing on the Moon, while also marking a historic first—a landing on the lunar south pole. Behind this resounding accomplishment stand the remarkable leaders who steered the Chandrayaan-3 mission to its remarkable success.
Leading the charge was ISRO chairman S Somanath, who, within a year of assuming office in January 2022, embraced the challenge of guiding India’s space aspirations towards the Moon’s uncharted south pole. Somanath’s strategic shift from focusing solely on success to eliminating failures proved pivotal, attributing the mission’s triumph to perfect liftoff, precise trajectory capture, flawless propulsion-lander module separation, and the ultimate daunting task of a successful landing. His vision, underpinned by meticulous planning, transformed Vikram into a pinnacle of lunar landing technology.
At the heart of the mission’s execution was P Veeramuthuvel, the Project Director, whose technical acumen and unwavering dedication played a pivotal role in orchestrating the mission’s seamless timeline. Veeramuthuvel’s leadership ensured meticulous coordination among diverse teams and unwavering adherence to timelines, driving the mission to resounding success. His recognition of collective teamwork underscored the importance of meticulous review processes.
Kalpana K, the Deputy Project Director, brought her aerospace engineering expertise to bear in constructing the spacecraft and meticulous testing. Her pivotal role in Chandrayaan-2 and other landmark missions underscored her valuable contributions. Kalpana’s pride in the team’s achievement and their rigorous approach to each mission phase exemplified ISRO’s commitment to excellence.
Nilesh M. Desai, the Director of the Space Applications Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad, oversaw the creation of mission-critical components, with advancements like the Laser Doppler Velocimeter enhancing precision. His emphasis on real-time data insight promised invaluable scientific discoveries.
Unnikrishnan Nair, Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), propelled the mission with the development of the LVM-3 rocket—a symbol of India’s space prowess. His vision for lunar exploration and pursuit of uncharted lunar territories aligned with Chandrayaan-3’s ambitious goals.
The collective efforts of A Rajarajan, Director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota, ensured smooth launches from the Indian spaceport, while M. Sankaran, Director of U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) in Bengaluru, expressed gratitude to the dedicated project team and highlighted ISRO’s vision for future manned and planetary missions.
The successful touchdown of Chandrayaan-3 radiates as a testament to the leadership, innovation, and tenacity of these extraordinary individuals. Their visionary direction has set India on an impressive trajectory of space exploration, reinforcing ISRO’s prominent position in the global space arena.