Chairman ISRO, Secretary DOS
Mr Alur Seelin Kiran Kumar, Distinguished Scientist (Apex) and Director, Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, assumed the office of the Secretary, Department of Space, Chairman, Space Commission and Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on January 14, 2015.
Mr Kiran Kumar is a highly accomplished space scientist and engineer with a distinguished career spanning over four decades in ISRO in the satellite payload and applications domains.
He has made immense contributions to the design and development of Electro-Optical Imaging Sensors for Airborne, Low Earth Orbit and Geostationary Orbit satellites starting from Bhaskara TV payload to the Mars Orbiter Mission payloads.
Mr Kiran Kumar was instrumental in evolving the successful strategy for steering the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft towards planet Mars as well as its Mars Orbit Insertion. He has also made significant contributions for evolving the observation strategy encompassing land, ocean, atmospheric and planetary studies.
Mr Kiran Kumar is an alumnus of National College, the esteemed educational institution of Bangalore. He obtained his Physics (Honours) Degree from Bangalore University in 1971 and later obtained his Master’s degree in Electronics from the same university in 1973, and thereafter his M.Tech Degree in Physical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 1975.
Mr Kiran Kumar began his career in ISRO by joining Space Applications Centre (SAC) in 1975. Later, he became its Associate Director and in March 2012 took over as the Director of SAC.
At SAC, Mr Kiran Kumar has been steering the design, development & realisation of payloads and application activities of earth observation, communication, navigation, space science and planetary exploration.
Mr Kiran Kumar is a recipient of many national and international laurels/awards including the Padma Shri Award conferred by the President of India in 2014, International Academy of Astronautics’ Laurels for Team Achievement Award for Cartosat in 2008 and for Chandrayaan-1 in 2013, Indian Society of Remote Sensing (ISRS) Award for the year 1994, VASVIK award (Electronic sciences and technology) for the year 1998, Astronautical Society of India Award (Space Sciences and Applications) for the year 2001, ISRO individual Service Award 2006, Bhaskara Award of ISRS in 2007 and ISRO Performance Excellence Award 2008.
He is a Fellow of professional institutions like Indian National Academy of Engineering, Indian Society of Remote Sensing, Institution of Electronics & Telecommunication Engineer, and Indian Meteorological Society. Besides, he is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics.
Mr Kiran Kumar has represented ISRO in international forums like World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and Indo-US Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation.
B.Sc. with Honours (Physics), 1971, Bangalore University
M.Sc. (Physics), 1973, Bangalore University with specialisation in Electronics
M Tech in Physical Engineering, 1975, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Date of Birth
October 22, 1952 at Hassan, Karnataka
Padma Shri Award
Gandhi Peace Prize 2014 to ISRO
1998 - 2006 -- Group Director (Principal Investigator, Chandrayaan-1), Electro-Optics Sensor Development
2004 -- Associate Project Director, Cartosat-2 Satellite Payload
2006 -- Deputy Director, Sensors Development Area, Space Applications Centre
2008 -- Group Director (Principal Investigator, Chandrayaan-1), TMC/ HySI Instruments, Space Applications Centre
2009 -- Associate Director, Space Applications Centre
2012 -- Director, Space Applications Centre
2015 -- Secretary, Department of Space, Chairman, Space Commission and Chairman, ISRO
Shri A. S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman, ISRO, is responsible for the implementation of the applications oriented Indian Space Programme, which has facilitated rapid development of the country in many important spheres. In this pursuit, he is steering the development of satellites and related technologies for earth observation, communication, navigation, meteorology and space science, as well as the development of indigenous launch vehicles and related technologies for providing assured access to space. He has implemented several path-breaking technologies in the development of electro-optics systems and these seeds sown by him have now blossomed into an enviable constellation of Remote sensing satellites by India. His contributions to the success of planetary exploration missions namely, Chandrayaan-1 and Mars Orbiter Mission (from conceptualisation stage to critical orbital insertion) as well the space science mission - ASTROSAT have been significant. Advanced communication payloads providing high through-put/bandwidth, navigation payloads for Indian National Regional Navigation System (IRNSS) and GAGAN have been developed under his supervision.
Shri Kiran Kumar has been actively involved in the working group on calibration and validation activities at the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and was also CEOS Chair during 2012. He has also significantly contributed to other international fora like Coordination Group of Meteorological Satellites (CGMS), Expert Team on Satellite Systems – World Meteorological Organisation (ETSAT of WMO) and Indo-US Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation. He has been a key member in the realisation of several satellites with international co-operation including MEGHA-TROPIQUES and SARAL and also now actively leading the development of NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR).
He is also leading the initiative of promoting space technology based tools for governance and development in various Ministries/Departments, by conceptualising innovative space applications, setting up of space technology cells in the Ministries and strengthening of capacity building mechanisms for enhancing the role of space applications in governance. His contributions have enabled India to deliver state-of-the-art applications, using satellite remote sensing, communication and navigation systems, with significant impacts at grass root level. In recognition of his contributions in the field of science and engineering, the Government of India conferred the prestigious `Padma Shri’ award in the year 2014. He is the recipient of Laurels for Team achievement Award of International Academy of Astronautics for Cartosat in 2008 and Chandrayaan-1 in 2013.
Governance and Developmental Initiatives
Under leadership of Shri Kiran Kumar, ISRO is spearheading the initiative of promoting space technology based tools in governance and development in various Ministries/Departments. He is the driving force towards conceptualising innovative space applications, setting up of space technology cells in the Union Ministries and strengthening of capacity building mechanism for enhancing the role of space applications in G-governance initiatives. He is the man behind maximising the use of GAGAN enabled location based services.
Honours and Awards
- Padma Shri Award conferred by the Hon. President of India in 2014
- Gandhi Peace Prize 2014 to ISRO
- G.M.Modi Science Award by Gujar Mal Modi Science Foundation in 2016
- Lifetime Achievement Award by Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences in 2016
- Rajyotsava Award conferred by Govt. of Karnataka in 2015
- IISc Distinguished Alumnus Award for the year 2015
- Sir M. Visvesvaraya Senior Scientist State Award’ for the year 2013
- Gujarat Ratna “Life for Innovation” Award conferred by Gujarat Innovation Society
- Laurels for Team Achievement Award 2013 (Chandrayaan-1), International Academy of Astronautics
- ISRO Performance Excellence Award 2008
- Laurels for Team Achievement Award 2008 (Cartosat) of International Academy of Astronautics
- Bhaskara Award conferred by Indian Society of Remote Sensing 2007
- ISRO Individual Service Award 2006
- Astronautical Society of India Award (Space Sciences and Applications) 2001
- VASVIK Award (Electronic Sciences and Technology) 1998
- Indian Society of Remote Sensing Award 1994
He has had a distinguished career adorned with accomplishments spanning beyond 41 years in space technology, applications and space programme management.
- Starting his career as an Avionics Engineer in May 1971 at ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram; he commendably held several decisive positions in ISRO later such as Project Director for setting up Regional Remote Sensing Centers (1987-89); Director of Budget & Economic Analysis for entire ISRO (1987-97); Director of National Natural Resources Management System-Regional Remote Sensing Service Centers (1989-97); Mission Director of Integrated Mission for Sustainable Development and Deputy Director of National Remote Sensing Agency (1997-2000); Director of National Remote Sensing Agency (2005-08); Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (2007-09); and Member, Space Commission (October 2008-October 2009) with some responsibilities in concurrence.
- During July 2000-November 2005, he had a stint in the Department of Ocean Development (currently Ministry of Earth Sciences) as the Founder Director of Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services and the first Project Director of Indian National Tsunami Warning System.
- He held several important positions at the international level during his tenure at Department of Ocean Development and also in ISRO. The prestigious positions include Vice Chairman of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (2001-05), Regional Coordinator (Indian Ocean) for International Project on Argo Profiling Floats (2001-05), Founder Chairman of Indian Ocean Global Ocean Observing System (2001-06), Chairman of the Working Group of the Whole of UN-COPUOS STSC (2008-2009) and Leader of Indian delegation to UN-COPUOS (2008-09).
In November 01, 2009, Dr. Radhakrishnan assumed the concomitant responsibilities of Chairman of Space Commission and Secretary, Department of Space, Government of India as well as the Chairman of ISRO Council (Chairman, ISRO).
- Also, he has been also holding related ex-officio portfolios as (i) Chairman of INSAT Coordination Committee; (ii) Chairman of Board of Management of Indian Institute of Space Science & Technology (IIST), Thiruvananthapuram; (iii) Chairman of Management Council of Semiconductor Laboratory (SCL),Chandigarh; (iv) Chairman of Governing Council of North-Eastern Space Applications Centre, Shillong; (v) Chairman of Governing Council of National Atmospheric Research Laboratory, Tirupati; (vi) Member of Council of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, and (vii) Member of Planning Committee of National Natural Resources Management System (PC-NNRMS). He was Chairman of the Board of ANTRIX Corporation Ltd during Nov 2009-July 2011.
- He is Member of the CSIR Society and Governing Body (since 2011) and Chairman of Research Council, National Aerospace Laboratory of CSIR (since April 2010).
- He is Ex-officio Member of the Scientific Advisory Committees to PM and to the Cabinet. Also, he is a Member of the Council of NITs, Governing Councils of several IISERs.
Contributions to Indian Space Programme
Shri Kiran Kumar joined the Space Applications Centre (SAC) of ISRO at Ahmedabad in 1975. During his career span of four decades at SAC, he has made immense contributions to the development of over 50 Electro-Optical Imaging Sensors operating from Airborne, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) platforms - starting from the Bhaskara TV payload that led to evolution of observation strategy encompassing, land, ocean and atmosphere. Data received from these missions have been the backbone of a good number of application programmes of the country formulated towards ensuring food and water security, sustaining environment and eco-system, understanding weather and climate, monitoring and management of natural resources, planning and monitoring of developmental activities, support to management and mitigation during disaster events, and information for better governance.
As Director, Space Applications Centre, Shri Kiran Kumar steered the design, development, realisation of communication, navigation, microwave and optical remote sensing payloads, including varieties of space based applications while ensuring excellent administrative and management skills at the centre.
He has made significant contributions to the development of a number of critical spacecraft technologies through active participation as chairman/member in design reviews and critical processes. These include the low earth orbit satellites, geostationary satellites and planetary mission satellites, including the Mission Readiness Reviews, Launch Authorisation Board of PSLV, GSLV missions and integrated technical review of GSLV Mark III. He has also contributed to the critical review processes covering ground segment activities involving, satellite data acquisition, data processing, algorithm development in geophysical parameter retrieval, product generation and product dissemination for both IRS and INSAT series.
He has led design and development of Electro-Optical Imaging Sensors for a wide range of Airborne, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) platform based imaging sensors starting from Bhaskara TV payload to MSM, TIS and MCC payloads for MOM. He has also been responsible for the design and development of Very High Resolution Radiometers for INSAT-2A/2B/2E, KALPANA and INSAT-3A providing multi channel imageries from geostationary orbits for meteorological applications since 1992 and next generation 6 Channel Imager and 19 Channel Sounder instruments for INSAT-3D, that has resulted in a quantum jump with regard to weather monitoring and forecasting services in the country. Further, he led team towards operationalisation of INSAT based Meteorological Data Processing System (IMDPS) at India Meteorological Department, New Delhi, and back-up system at Bopal Earth Station of SAC. The operational availability of this valuable data, based on half-hourly images of KALPANA-1 VHRR and INSAT-3A CCD payload have significantly improved the usage of MET data by various users in the country.
Shri Kiran Kumar has extensively contributed to the operationalisation of Oceansat-2 Scatterometer data for generating Ocean Wind Vectors essential for use in Numerical Weather Forecast Model and worked towards making it available for the global user community.
He has been instrumental in bringing in the concept of `Apparent Velocity Reduction’ (Step and Stare concept) to overcome the technology non-availability issues to achieve very high resolution sub-meter imaging capability that was successfully demonstrated as part of TES (2001), CARTOSAT-2, 2A and 2B missions while at the same time the adoption of Push broom technology.
For topographical/land applications, realisation of 3-Tier Imaging concept of coarse resolution large swath, medium resolution medium swath and high resolution small swath adopted for IRS-1C to Resourcesat-2 and development of the highest spatial resolution along track stereo payload for Cartosat-1 mission which resulted in realisation of Digital Elevation Model (DEM) for the entire country have been carried out under his guidance. He has also made notable contributions to the development of space-borne synthetic aperture radar for India's first microwave imaging satellite RISAT-1.
Advanced communication payloads providing high through-put/bandwidth, navigation payloads for Indian National Regional Navigation System (IRNSS) and GAGAN have been developed under his supervision. He has also led the indigenous realisation of CCD technology flown on IMS-1 and development of IR sensitive quantum dot area array detectors.
He has played many important roles towards making the Chandrayaan-1 mission successful beginning from the conceptualisation of the mission (as Member of the Study Team). He has overseen the payloads/mission operations and management, in-orbit operations, operationalisation of data processing, creation of lunar atlas and as Principal Investigator of Terrain Mapping Camera and Hyper Spectral Imager ensured availability of DEM and hyperspectral sensor data to the science research community (investigations resulted in publication of more than 20 co-authored papers).
Mars Orbiter Mission
He has made exemplary contributions to the successful execution of the Mars Orbiter Mission. He has been actively involved in the planning at each phase of the mission such as, mission planning, spacecraft configuration, payloads selection, design, development and realisation of optical payloads (Mars Colour Camera, Methane Sensor for Mars, and Thermal Infrared Imaging Sensor), post launch tracking activities, earth burns, trans-mars injections, navigation, Martian orbit insertion, high precision orbit maneuvers (pre/post insertion), payload operations and operationalisation of data processing.
His other contributions include establishment of space infrastructure, ground segments for the Indian Earth Observation programme and Planetary Sciences. Thanks to his leadership, the nation’s remote sensing capabilities now are at par with that of the advanced countries and have helped the society through information ranging from potential fishing zones to hazards assessment. These indigenous developments helped to create a technology base for the nation.
Fellowship of Science Academies and Organisations
- Indian National Academy of Sciences (INAS)
- Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE)
- Indian Society of Remote Sensing (ISRS)
- Institution of Electronics & Telecommunication Engineers (IETE)
- Indian Meteorological Society (IMS)
- Gujarat Science Academy (GSA)
- Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences
Membership/Role in Professional Bodies
Indian Society of Remote Sensing (ISRS) Indian Society of Geomatics (ISG) Astronautical Society of India (ASI)
International Academy of Astronautics (IAA)
Shri Kiran Kumar has been conferred with more than 10 Honoris Causa from prestigious Universities including Kaziranga University and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University.
76 Research publications both in National and International journals.
Six Publications including books, monographs & journals
Many Articles as a Chapter in Books
Association with International Bodies
Shri Kiran Kumar has been duly recognised internationally for contributions to calibration and validation activities in forums like, Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), Coordination Group of Meteorological Satellites (CGMS), Expert Team on Satellite Systems – World Meteorological Organisation (ETSAT of WMO) and Indo-US Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation. Yet another success in the international arena has been when he was the Chairman of the international Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and spearheaded the CEOS in 2012. Shri Kiran Kumar has many bi-lateral cooperation successes behind him – all of which has made ISRO a global entity and also has furthered the developing country perspectives of space. He has been instrumental in ISRO-NASA co-operation for joint satellite development on L & S band SAR.