Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan (born 24 October 1940 in Ernakulam) is an Indian space scientist who headed the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from 1994 to 2003. He is the former chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University and the chairman of Karnataka Knowledge Commission. He is a former member of the Rajya Sabha (2003–09) and a former member of the now defunct Planning Commission of India. He was also the Director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, from April 2004 to 2009. He is a recipient of the three major civilian awards from the Government of India: the Padma Shri (1982), Padma Bhushan (1992) and Padma Vibhushan (2000).
Kasturirangan graduated in Science with Honours from Ramnarain Ruia College, Matunga situated in central Mumbai, and obtained his Master of Science degree in Physics, from University of Mumbai. He received his Doctorate Degree in Experimental High Energy Astronomy in 1971, working at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. He has published more than 244 papers in the areas of astronomy, space science and applications.
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Dr. Kasturirangan has steered the Indian Space programme gloriously for over 9 years as Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, of Space Commission and Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Space, before laying down his office on August 27, 2003. He was earlier the Director of ISRO Satellite Centre, overseeing the development of new generation spacecraft, the Indian National Satellite (INSAT-2) and the Indian Remote SensingSatellites (IRS-1A and 1B) as well as scientific satellites. He was also the Project Director for India's first two experimental earth observation satellites, Bhaskara-I and II.
Under his leadership, the programme witnessed several major milestones including the successful launching and operationalisation of the India's prestigious launch vehicles, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle. Studies on the advanced version of the GSLV, GSLVMk-III, was also completed including defining its full configuration. Further, he also oversaw the development and launching of some of the world's best civilian remote sensing satellites, IRS-1C and IRS-1D, realisation of new generation INSAT communication satellites, besides ocean observation satellites IRS-P3/P4. He also led the initiative for India to enter the planetary exploration era by an extensive studies leading to the definition of Chandrayaan-I. These efforts have put India as a pre-eminent space-faring nation among the handful of six countries that have major space programmes. As an Astrophysicist, Dr. Kasturirangan's interest include research in high energy X-ray and gamma ray astronomy as well as optical astronomy. Defining India’s most ambitious space based High Energy Astronomy observatory and initiating a related activities was also an important milestone under his leadership. He has made extensive and significant contributions to studies of Cosmic x-ray and gamma ray sources and effect of cosmic x-rays in the lower atmosphere.
Kasturirangan is head of a committee tasked with creating a new education policy for India.
Dr Kasturirangan is the recipient of Honorary Doctorate from 16 universities.
U. R. Rao
1994 - 2003
G. Madhavan Nair