The village that gave India its new ISRO chief…..DR.Sivan

A humble son of a farmer who studied in local government run schools, in Tamil medium, is the new head of India’s premier space agency.

Dr K Sivan was born in Sarakkalvilai in Kanyakumari district in 1957. His father was a farmer, and Dr Sivan is the first graduate in the family.

By all accounts, his is an unusual story.

A young Sivan studied in government schools in his native village till the 5th standard, and completed his schooling in neighbouring Valankumaravilai, all in Tamil medium. Later, he graduated from the S T Hindu College in Nagercoil.

He then graduated from the Madras Institute of Technology in aeronautical engineering in 1980 and completed his master’s in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 1982.

That year he joined ISRO on its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle project, towards which he contributed in mission planning, design, integration and analysis. He has held various responsibilities during his stint in ISRO, finally going on to head India’s space agency.

At ISRO, he completed his PhD in aerospace engineering from IIT-Bombay, in 2006.

Dr Sivan, who takes over from Dr A S Kiran Kumar on Monday, January 15, for a three-year term, is only the second rocket scientist after G Madhavan Nair to head ISRO.

MAGE: Dr Sivan’s family home in Sarakkalvilai village. He comes here regularly to attend family functions and for the Bhadrakali Amman puja. Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar/

Sarakkalvilai falls on the outskirts of Nagercoil, which is the headquarters of Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu. All of a sudden this small village has become the centre of attraction for people near and far, thanks to its famous son.

“Take the next right and it is at the end of the road,” says a villager, and as you reach the house you realise it is as unpretentious as the man who grew up there.

Dr Sivan’s sister-in-law Saraswathi lives in the family house with her daughter. “My eldest daughter got married five months ago and Sivan had come for the function,” she says, her eyes glowing with happiness.

Since the announcement about his appointment, people have been coming in droves to congratulate her, and her face beams with pride.

“I was married 30 years ago into this family and at that time he was already working for ISRO in Thiruvananthapuram. He used to live in a lodge then. He comes home for festivals and family functions,” says Saraswathi.

The conversation is interrupted when former Tamil Nadu Congress president Kumari Ananthan lands up with a dozen supporters to congratulate her.

One of the men who comes along with Ananthan hands her a book with the message, “Please give it to him when he comes next.” Another hands her a monthly magazine.

“He comes here every year for the Badrakali Amman puja which takes place in April-May,” adds his sister-in-law.

“He comes with his family, offers prayers and leaves the same day. He always comes for all family functions. When he is with the family he is always smiling and joking. He never calls, but his wife calls regularly and keeps in touch with us,” Sarawathi says.

“He was a class topper from school to college,” says Dr Sivan’s uncle who lives in the house opposite.

“He was a brilliant student and never went for tuitions or private classes. His father used to pluck mangoes and young Sivan used to go to the market to sell it. He was a helpful child,” the uncle adds.

The school Dr Sivan studied at is also opposite the family house. The retired PT master there recalls him clearly. “He was five years my junior in school, I remember him as a very quiet boy.”

“I too was five years his junior,” another villager pipes in. “You know the final exams used to come during harvest time. His father used to be in the field while Sivan sat on the lower branch of a tree with his books, studying, keeping one eye on the harvest, and run if his father called. He was always studying.”

“When Sivan and I were in school we had a very good headmaster,” the villager adds. “That headmaster planted many trees in the school compound and made every class in charge of a few trees. In the morning, when we came to school, the first thing we did was to water the trees and only after that did we attend school.”

“Kanyakumari is basically an agricultural district,” an elderly villager points out. “Apart from coir, there was no industry here. We all survived on farming. It’s rich fertile soil and there is plenty of water. Paddy, bananas, coconuts, mangoes, rubber is grown here.”

“Sivan was exceptional,” the elderly gent adds, “while he helped his father in the field he continued studying every free moment.”

“As there was only a primary school here we went to nearby Valankumaravilai for our SSC (Class 10). Those days there was no 12th standard. As there was no bus facility we walked.”

A colleague from ISRO, who retired a decade ago and did not want to be named for this feature, recalls, “He (Sivan) would go home only to sleep. He is extremely hard-working and totally focused on his work. He was not only the first graduate from his family, he was also the first graduate from his village.”

FILE PHOTO::: New Delhi: Renowned scientist K. Sivan has been appointed as the new Chairman of ISRO, by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on Wednesday, January 10, 2017. PTI Photo **                                                

“He is a disciplined taskmaster,” says D Karthikesan, former director of the ISRO Propulsion Complex in Mahindragiri, Tamil Nadu.

“He likes to keep everything on schedule and works with a deadline,” adds Karthikesan. “If he thinks there is a problem somewhere he will go and talk to the people actually working on the project, and never limit himself to seniors in the organisation.”

“Though he is a hard taskmaster,” the former ISRO scientist points out, “he is also extremely generous and always looks after the welfare of the people working under him. So people work hard for him.”

“He is a bold decision-maker,” says Karthikesan. “Where others may hesitate wondering if it would work or not, he will say it will work and will do it.”

“Though he followed the schedule strictly,” adds Karthikesan, “he also made sure that all parameters are met at every stage. Whether it is quality or safety, he made sure every parameter was up to the mark before proceeding, and yet kept a tight schedule.”

Dr Sivan has two sons. The elder one has finished his BTech, the younger son is in college.

The school Dr Sivan studied in was built over 60 years ago. “We need to pull it down and build another,” says a villager. A government-run school, the land was given free by Dr Sivan’s uncle.

The village still does not have a bus service, a fact the villagers highlighted to Kumari Ananthan, the Congress politician. Nor does it have a middle, high or higher secondary school.

K Sivan’s ascent bears an uncanny resemblance to another ISRO scientist who was born in a fishing village in Ramanathapuram, also in Tamil Nadu.

That scientist, of course, went on to become the most beloved President this Republic has had.

Source….A.Ganesh Nadar in


வரலாறு பேசும் அரிய புகைப்படத்தை விட்டு சென்ற விண்வெளி வீரர்!

மந்தாரமான கறுப்பு நிற திரை… கீழே பிரகாசமாக படர்ந்திருக்கும்  நீல நிறம். குட்டியாகத் தெரியும் பொம்மை போன்ற உருவம்.. ஏதோ கிராபிக்ஸ் காட்சி போன்று தோன்றலாம். ஆனால் இது விண்வெளியில் பதிவான உண்மை காட்சி. கீழே படர்ந்திருக்கும் நீல நிறம்தான் நாம் வாழும் பூமி. கறுப்பு திரை விண்வெளி. குட்டி பொம்மை போன்று மிதந்து கொண்டிருப்பவர் விண்வெளி வீரர் புரூஸ் மெக்கண்டில்ஸ் (Bruce McCandless).                                                                                                                             








இந்த புகைப்படம் 1984ம் ஆண்டு பதிவானது. எந்த பிடிமானமும் இல்லாமல் சுதந்திரமாக (untethered with nothing) விண்வெளியில் வலம் வந்த முதல் வீரர் என்னும் பெருமைப்பெற்றவர்  புரூஸ் மெக்கண்டில்ஸ். இவர் தனது 80 வயதில் கடந்த 21ம் தேதி காலமானார். அவரை பெருமைப்படுத்தும் விதமான அவரின் சாதனை நிமிடங்களை நாசா வெளியிட்டு வருகிறது. அவரின் இந்த புகைப்படம் விண்வெளி வரலாற்று பக்கங்களில் சிறந்த பக்கமாக விளங்கும் என்று புகழாரம் சூட்டியுள்ளது நாசா!

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We’re saddened by the loss of retired astronaut Bruce McCandless II. Most known for being the 1st human to free-float on a shuttle spacewalk, he also served as the Apollo 11 moonwalkers’ link to mission control and helped launch @NASAHubble 




Why you can’t fly a plane to space…?


Why can’t you fly a plane to space?

Turns out, you couldn’t even make it halfway. Part of the problem is Earth’s gravity. You need to escape it in order to reach space.

This requires a minimum speed of mach 33 (25,000 mph). The current world record for fastest plane is only mach 6.7 (5,140 mph). The other problem is the atmosphere.

As you fly higher, the atmosphere grows thinner. This creates two serious issues:

Issue 1: Fewer air molecules means it’s harder for the plane to stay airborne.

Issue 2: Less oxygen means less combustible fuel to power the engine.

So how high can planes actually fly? Commercial airliners generally don’t surpass 45,000 feet. But some pilots have pushed their planes to extreme limits.

In 1977, Alexandr Fedotov flew to 123,532 feet. This is the highest any ground-launched plane has reached. Yet, Fedotov only made it about 1/3 the way to space.

Another plane, SpaceShipOne reached 367,500 feet in 2004. It had rocket engines and was flown to an initial 43,500 feet before launch.

Looks like its best to leave spaceflight to the real rocket ships.!!!



வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை …” நிலா விடும் தூது “


நிலா  விடும்  தூது
நிலா சோறு சாப்பிட்ட நீ கால் பதித்தாய் என் மண்ணில்
ஒரு நாள் … நிலவு எனக்கு அன்று ஒரே பெருமை !
 பூமித்தாயின் பிள்ளைகள் வருவார்கள் என் வீட்டுக்கு !
 ஆட்டமும் பாட்டமும் இருக்கும் என் வீட்டிலும் ! நான் அவருக்கு
ஊட்ட வேண்டும் சோறு பூமி காட்டி என் நிலவு வீட்டில்!
இந்த நிலவின் கனவு அது !இலவு காத்த கிளி போல ஆனதே
இந்த நிலவின் கனவு !நானும்  தூது விட்டுப் பார்க்கிறேன்
என்னைத் தாண்டி செல்லும்  விண்கலத்தில் எல்லாம்!
வழி மேல் விழி வைத்து தேடுகிறேன் உன்னை
மனிதா  என் மேலே வட்டமிடும் விண்கலத்தில் ! இரக்கமே
இல்லையா உனக்கு ? என் மண்ணில்  இறங்க மறுப்பது ஏன் ?
உயர உயர பறப்பதுதான் உன்  இலக்கா ? புதுப்புது
மண்ணை விண்ணிலும் தொட்டு முத்தமிட்டு உன் வீட்டுக்கே
திரும்பி செல்வது மட்டும்  உன் அறிவியல் விளையாட்டா ?
உன் மண்ணில் நீ விளையாட இடம் இல்லாமல் இந்த
விண்ணில் நீ விளையாட நானும் இந்த விண்மண்டலமும்
ஒரு விளையாட்டு திடல் மட்டுமா  உனக்கு ?
புதுப்புது அறிவியல் செய்தி உன் வசம் கொண்டு  சேர்க்கும்
உன் விண்கலம்  இந்த நிலா விடும் தூதை மட்டும் உன்னிடம்
கொண்டு சேர்க்காத காரணம் என்ன சொல்லு மனிதா?
நிலா நான்  காத்திருக்கிறேன் உன் கால் என் மண்ணை
மீண்டும் முத்தமிட்டு  என் மண்ணில் நீ ஓடி ஆடும்
அந்த நல்ல நாளுக்காக !
Natarajan  in dated 27th Feb 2017

Image of the Day….Astronaut Tim Peake has returned to Earth after an historic mission aboard the ISS…



The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft capsule carrying International Space Station (ISS) crew members, Timothy Peake of Britain, Yuri Malenchenko of Russia and Timothy Kopra of the U.S., descends beneath a parachute near the town of Dzhezkazgan (Zhezkazgan), Kazakhstan, June 18, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov