Kailasavadivoo Sivan, popularly known as the Rocket Man of India is an Indian space scientist. He is the chairperson of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). He is also the former Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC).
He was born on 14 April 1957 in Mela Sarakkalvilai, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu, India. His father, Kailasavadivoo is a farmer and his mother, Chellam is a homemaker. He has a brother and two sisters.
His wife, Malathi Sivan is a homemaker, and the couple have two sons, Sushanth and Siddharth.
K Sivan went to Tamil-medium Government Schools in Mela Sarakkalvilai Village and in Vallankumaranvila for his schooling. After schooling, he wanted to pursue engineering but due to financial issues, he joined the South Travancore Hindu College in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu to to pursue his bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He set a record of scoring 100% marks in four subjects. After which, he got a scholarship to study at the Madras Institute Of Technology in Chennai from where he completed his bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
He also went to Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore (now Bengaluru) for his Master of Engineering (ME) in Aerospace Engineering and Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay (Mumbai) for his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Aerospace Engineering.
After completing his studies from IISc in 1982, he joined ISRO to work on the design and development of launch vehicles. He worked in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project. He also launched MARS mission endeavour of India through PSLV. On 2 July 2014, he became the director of LPSC and on 1 June 2015, he became the director of VSSC.
In April 2011, Sivan started working as a Project Director on the GSLV project to demonstrate the reliability and robustness of GSLV and also to flight demonstrate the Indigenous Cryogenic Stage. He achieved huge success on that project. He has played multiple roles during his career at ISRO like Group Director, MSSG, Project Director of RLV-TD, Deputy Director, Aeronautics Entity, Structures Entity, Project Director of GSLV, Chief Controller, etc.
On 14 February 2017, ISRO set a world record of the ability to send 104 satellites in a single mission. He played a key role in making that record.
In January 2018, he became the chief of ISRO. On 22 July 2019, ISRO launched India’s second lunar exploration mission, Chandrayaan 2 under his chairmanship.
Shri Hari Om Ashram Prerit Dr Vikram Sarabhai Research Award
ISRO Merit Award
Dr Biren Roy Space Science Award
Distinguished Alumnus Award from MIT Alumni Association, Chennai
Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from Sathyabama University, Chennai
Distinguished Alumnus Award from Institute of Science, Bangalore
Vigyan Ratna Award from the Vice President, Shri Venkaiah Naidu M during the 68th Annual Convocation of Panjab University held in Chandigarh on 28 April
K Sivan is the first person in his family who graduated.
He is known as the Rocket Man of India due to his significant contribution to the development of cryogenic engines for space programme of India.