K. Radhakrishnan

Koppillil Radhakrishnan
Radhakrishnan in 2014
Born (1949-08-29) 29 August 1949
Dominion of India
Alma mater IIT Kharagpur (Ph.D., 2000)
IIM Bangalore (PGDM, 1976)
Govt Engg College Thrissur (B.Sc. Engg., 1970)
Known for Chandrayaan-1, Mangalyaan
Awards Padma Bhushan (2014)[1]
Scientific career
Fields Electrical engineering and space research
Institutions VSSC, ISRO

Koppillil Radhakrishnan[2] (born 29 August 1949) is an Indian space scientist who headed the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) between November 2009 and December 2014 as Chairman of Space Commission, Secretary of the Department of Space and Chairman of ISRO.[3][4][5] Prior to this, he was the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (2007-2009) and Director of National Remote Sensing Agency (2005-2008) of the Department of Space. He had a brief stint of five years (2000-2005) in the Ministry of Earth Sciences as Director of Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS).[6] Presently, he is an Honorary Distinguished Adviser in the Department of Space/ISRO.[7]

He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering; Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India; Honorary Life Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, India; Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers, India; Member of the International Academy of Astronautics; Fellow of the Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences; Honorary Fellow of the Kerala Academy of Sciences; Fellow of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing; and Fellow of the Indian Geophysical Union.[6] He is an accomplished vocalist (Carnatic music) and Kathakali artist.[8]

Penguin Random House India published his autobiography My Odyssey: Memoirs of the Man Behind the Mangalyaan Mission (ISBN 978-0-670-08906-2), co-authored by Radhakrishnan and Nilanjan Routh, in November 2016.[9]

Personal life and education

Koppillil Radhakrishnan hails from Irinjalakuda in Thrissur district, Kerala. After his schooling at the National High School, Irinjalakuda, he did two-year Pre-degree studies (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry) at Christ College, Irinjalakuda. He studied Electrical Engineering at the Government Engineering College, Thrissur and acquired BSc (Engg.) degree in First Class with Honours from Kerala University in 1970. He joined ISRO in May 1971 at the Space Science & Technology Centre at Thiruvananthapuram (the present Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre). While at ISRO, he joined Indian Institute of Management Bangalore for two-year post-graduate studies in management in its first batch and obtained Post Graduate Diploma in Management in 1976. In 2000, he obtained doctorate from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur for the thesis : 'Some Strategies for the Management of Indian Earth Observation System', prepared under the joint supervision of Prof. Satish Dhawan (Chairman, Space Commission/Secretary of Department of Space and Chairman of ISRO during 1972-1984) and Prof. Damodar Acharya of IIT, Kharagpur.

Radhakrishnan married Padmini Kizhakke Valappil from Irinjalakuda in 1983. Padmini worked with State Bank of Travancore from 1980 to 2010.

Radhakrishnan is a Carnatic music and Kathakali enthusiast and performer.[10][11]

Key Contributions

Early years at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (1971-81)

Radhakrishnan started his career at ISRO in 1971 as a design and development engineer of electro-mechanical devices for SLV-3 rocket.[12] Soon after his management studies, Radhakrishnan transformed into system planning and technology management at the in Avionics Group of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, under Dr. Suresh Chandra Gupta (Director of VSSC during 1985-94), then Director of Avionics Group. Also, Radhakrishnan assisted Dr Gupta as the Secretary of the Avionics Area Board of VSSC.[12]

At India's Space Headquarters (1981-97)

At the ISRO Headquarters, Radhakrishnan worked closely with the top management of ISRO/DOS, led by Prof. Satish Dhawan, Prof. U.R. Rao and Dr. K. Kasturirangan in succession during 1981-97.[13] Under their tutelage, Radhakrishnan shouldered the responsibility to oversee the preparation and review of 11 annual budgets of ISRO/DOS from 1987-88 to 1997-98 ensuring programmatic linkages and techno-economic analysis besides taking a significant role to formulate and defend the 1990-2000 decade profile as well as VIII and IX Five Year Plans for Indian Space programme.[12]

Concurrently, Radhakrishnan was Project Director to set up a chain of regional remote sensing service centres (RRSSC) at Bangalore, Nagpur, Kharagpur, Jodhpur and Dehradun for capacity building in central and state government agencies for digital image processing of satellite remote sensing data. Later, as Director of these RRSSCs (1989–97), he guided the RRSSC team of 150 persons and advanced these centres as regional hubs for remote sensing applications. RRSSCs gained a significant role by 1992 in the national mission, Integrated Mission for Sustainable Development (IMSD). IMSD aimed to generate comprehensive spatial database of natural resources and action plans for sustainable development of land and water resources for nearly 85 million hectares (25% of India’s landmass).[12]

Heading Integrated Mission for Sustainable Development (1997-2000)

In 1997, Radhakrishnan succeeded as the Mission Director of IMSD and moved to National Remote Sensing Agency in Hyderabad; for the next three years, he steered the efforts of 35 Project Directors and 300 Scientists drawn from all State Governments and ISRO/NRSA. IMSD was considered as largest remote sensing application experiment ever done in the world using a meticulous participatory approach.[12][14]

A stint in Ocean Observations at Ministry of Earth Sciences (2000-2005)

During the five year stint at the Department of Ocean Development (Ministry of Earth Sciences, presently) , Dr. Radhakrishnan is credited with setting up a globally recognized scientific institution, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), right from concept to reality in a record time of just two years. In the international level, he gained recognition to become Vice Chairman (2001–05) of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the founder Chairman (2001–06) of Indian Ocean Global Ocean Observing System ( IOGOOS), and the Regional Coordinator (Indian Ocean) during 2001-05 for an international collaborative programme on ocean observation using a global array of profiling Argo floats to enhance climate predictability.[15] His relentless efforts in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster of December 2004 resulted in the formulation of a national project and system design for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning Centre at INCOIS, which was later successfully established by his successors.[12]

Back at Department of Space / Indian Space Research Organisation (2005)

Back at the Department of Space in November 2005 as the Director of National Remote Sensing Agency, he scripted India’s modern multi-mission ground station for Earth Observation Satellites besides steering the re-structuring NRSA as a Government entity under ISRO/DOS. He held the post of Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre during 2007-09, overseeing five successful launches of PSLV including the first flight of the high-end version PSLV –XL that lofted Chandrayaan-1 besides progressing development of India’s advanced launcher GSLV Mk3; and steering formulation of Indian Human Spaceflight programme. He headed Indian Delegation to UN-COPUOS during 2008 and 2009 and chaired ‘Working Group of the Whole’.[12]

As Chief of India's Space Programme (2009-2014)

As India's space chief from November 2009 to December 2014, Radhakrishnan is acclaimed for the strong and successful leadership of ISRO to achieve several historic feats in space missions, notably, India's first planetary exploration mission to Mars from concept to fruition.[16] Radhakrishnan spearheaded the country's space programme, becoming the driving force for the 16,000 strong "Team ISRO" to execute 37 space missions in five years.[17]

India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM; aka Mangalyaan) was conceived, planned and executed, all within four years (2010-2014), establishing India as the first country to have successful mission to Mars in its maiden attempt,[18] and significantly, at a low cost.[19] The other landmarks during his regime include flying the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle with a native cryogenic engine;[20] experimental flight of the GSLV Mk III;[20] a re-entry experiment of an un-manned crew module;[20] a dozen successful operational flights of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle; and new space capabilities through IRNSS (1A, 1B, 1C) for navigation, GSAT-7 for strategic communication, and RISAT-1 for microwave radar imaging; as well as enhancing the Indian constellation of communication and remote-sensing satellites for space-based services.[17] ISRO completed two joint satellite missions with the French National Space Agency and inked another agreement with NASA to jointly build an advanced Radar Imaging Satellite.[21] India's standing in the global space market was enhanced as PSLV launched 18 commercial satellites for 11 countries.[22] Through an inclusive organisational process, Radhakrishnan charted out clear programmatic directions and nurtured younger generation of leaders for carrying forward the legacy of ISRO.[6] Re-defining the Chandrayaan-2 mission with a lander and rover[23] and extending the application of space technologies and tools to all central ministries are highlights of his leadership regime at ISRO.[6] He worked to enhance the partnership with the Indian space industry for the production of operational launchers and satellites.[6]

During his leadership, ISRO received the 2014 Gandhi Peace Prize; the 2014 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development; the 2014 Knowledge Economy Network KEN Award; the 2014 CNN-IBN Indian of the Year-Lifetime Achievement Award; the 2014 Global Game Changer Award by the Marico Innovation Foundation; and the 2013 CNBC-18 India Business Leader Award-BRAND INDIA.[6]

Positions held

He has held several key positions in ISRO and was one of the key people behind India's Chandrayaan-1 moon mission.[8] He has held the following positions:

  • Project Director, Regional Remote Sensing Service Centres under the umbrella of National Natural Resources Management System (1987–1989)[6]
  • Director, Regional Remote Sensing Service Centres under the umbrella of National Natural Resources Management System (1989–1997)[6]
  • Director, Budget and Economic Analysis, Indian Space Research Organisation/Department of Space, Bangalore, India (1987–1997)[6]
  • National Mission Director, Integrated Mission for sustainable Development and a Deputy Director of the National Remote Sensing Agency (1997–2000)[24]
  • Director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (2000–2005)[24]
  • Project Director, Indian Tsunami Warning System (2005)
  • Vice Chairman - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO (2001–2005)[24]
  • Founding Chairman, Indian Ocean Global Ocean Observing System (2001–2006)[24]
  • Regional Coordinator, Indian Ocean for the International Argo Project (2001–2005)[24]
  • Director, National Remote Sensing Agency, Department of Space (2005–2008)[25]
  • President, Indian Society of Remote Sensing (2005-2007)[6]
  • Vice President, Indian Geophysical Union (2007-2009)[6]
  • Member of the Indian delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (2006-2009)[24]
  • Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, India (2007–2009)[25]
  • Chairman, 'Working Group of the Whole' of S&T Sub-Committee of UN COPUOS (2008 & 2009)
  • Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation, Bangalore, India (2009-2014)[5]
  • Chairman, Board of Antrix Corporation, Bangalore, India (November 2009-July 2011)[26]
  • Chairman, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, India (2009-2014)[27]
  • Member, Planning Committee of National Natural Resources Management System (2009-2014)[6]
  • Chairman, NNRMS Standing Committee on Technology & Training (2009-2014)[6]
  • President, Astronautical Society of India (2010-2014)[6]
  • Member of CSIR Society and Member of CSIR Governing Council (2010-2013)[6]
  • Chairman, Research Council of National Aerospace Laboratory (2010-2013)[6]
  • Ex-officio Member of Scientific Advisory Committee to Prime Minister (2009-2014)[6]
  • Ex-officio Member of Scientific Advisory Committee to Cabinet (2009-2014)[6]
  • Chairman, Indian Institutes of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, India (2014–2017)[28]
  • Adviser, Department of Space/Indian Space Research Organisation (2016 & 2017)[7]
  • Honorary Distinguished Adviser, Department of Space/Indian Space Research Organisation (March 2018 – present)[7]

Awards and honors

  • 2014: Radhakrishnan received the Padma Bhushan Award for his contribution to Science and Engineering, especially in the field of Space Science and Technology.[2]
  • 2014: Named one of Nature's ten "people who mattered" of 2014 on December 18, 2014, along with Maryam Mirzakhani, Radhika Nagpal, and others.[29]

He is recipient of 38 awards and accolades,[7] including:

  • 2003: K.R. Ramanathan Memorial Gold Medal of Indian Geophysical Union
  • 2005: VASVIK Industrial Research Award
  • 2006: Silver Jubilee Honour by Ministry of Earth Sciences
  • 2008: BHASKARA Award of Indian Society of Remote Sensing
  • 2008: Dr. Y. Nayudamma Memorial Award of the A.P Academy of Sciences
  • 2009: Social Sciences Award of the International Academy of Astronautics
  • 2010: Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Award of Indian Science Congress
  • 2010: Distinguished Alumnus Award of IIT, Kharagpur
  • 2010: Distinguished Alumnus Award of IIM, Bangalore
  • 2014: ISRO's Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2014: The Allan D. Emil Award of International Astronautical Federation
  • 2014: Ernst & Young Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2014: Technovation-Sarabhai Award of Indian Electronics & Semiconductor Association
  • 2015: Lifetime Achievent Award of Union Bank of India
  • 2015: Lifetime Outstanding Innovation Award Indore Management Association
  • 2015: Bharat Asmita Vigyan Tantragyaan Shreshta
  • 2015: P.C. Chandra Purashkar for Lifetime Achievement
  • 2016: Lifetime Achievement Award, Engineers’ Forum, Nagpur
  • 2017: Global Indian (Science) Award of Times Network
  • 2018: Qimpro Platinum Standard 2018 (Business) [30]

He has been conferred Honorary Doctorates by IIT Kharagpur and 12 Indian universities.[7]


  1. "List of Padma awardees". The Hindu. 25 January 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  2. 1 2 "Isro, IISc men get top national honour". The Times of India. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  3. "ISRO gets a new chairman". Deccan Herald. 25 October 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  4. "Dr K Radhakrishnan made ISRO chief". Press Trust of India. 24 October 2009. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009.
  5. 1 2 "ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan retires". Hindustan Times. Press Trust of India. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 "Dr. K. Radhakrishnan (2009-2014) - ISRO". Indian Space Research Organisation. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 "Radhakrishnan Koppillil". LinkedIn.
  8. 1 2 "Dr K Radhakrishnan made ISRO chief". Hindustan Times. 24 October 2009. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  9. "My Odyssey - Penguin India". Penguin India. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  10. Radhakrishnan, M. G. (25 October 2009). "New ISRO chief a noted Kathakali dancer". India Today.
  11. "ISRO chief sings a different note". The New Indian Express. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Radhakrishnan, K. (2016-11-23). My Odyssey: Memoirs of the Man behind the Mangalyaan Mission. Penguin UK. ISBN 9789385990380.
  13. "Former Chairmen - ISRO". www.isro.gov.in. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  14. "RS&GIS Applications in Planning and Conservation of Resources in Rainfed Watersheds" (PDF).
  15. "Argo Profiling Floats Bring New Era of In Situ Ocean Observations" (PDF).
  16. Narasimhan, T. E. (2014-12-31). "Isro gives farewell to its 'Man of Steel' K Radhakrishnan". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  17. 1 2 "ISRO's Timeline from 1960s to Today - ISRO". Indian Space Research Organisation. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  18. "India becomes first country in world to place spacecraft in Mars' orbit in first attempt". Deccan Chronicle. 2014-09-24. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  19. Amos, Jonathan (2014-09-24). "Why India's Mars mission is so cheap - and thrilling". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  20. 1 2 3 "India's space odyssey: ISRO creates history in 2014". The Indian Express. 2014-12-27. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  21. "US and India sign space agreement". BBC News. 2014-10-01. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  22. "International Customer Satellites Launched". Antrix Corporation. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  23. "K Radhakrishnan interview: Success due to tireless efforts of Isro". Hindustan Times. 2014-09-24. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  24. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Dr. K. Radhakrishnan". University of Hyderabad. Archived from the original on 7 December 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  25. 1 2 "Dr K Radhakrishnan takes over as Secretary, Department of Space, Chairman, Space Commission and Chairman, ISRO" (Press release). Indian Space Research Organisation. 31 October 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  26. D. S., Madhumathi (9 July 2011). "ISRO's commercial arm Antrix gets new chief". The Hindu BusinessLine. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  27. "About Us". Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology.
  28. "Board stamp on IIEST upgrade". The Telegraph. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  29. Gibney, Elizabeth; et al. (December 18, 2014). "365 days: Nature's 10". Nature. 516 (7531): 311–319. Bibcode:2014Natur.516..311.. doi:10.1038/516311a. PMID 25519114.
  30. "Qimpro Foundation - Qimpro Awards". www.qimpro.org. Retrieved 2018-07-30.

Media related to K. Radhakrishnan at Wikimedia Commons

Government offices
Preceded by
G. Madhavan Nair
ISRO Chairman
Succeeded by
Shailesh Nayak
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.