Caption: India’s Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft attached to the fourth stage of the PSLV-C25 and ready for heat shield closure. Credit: ISRO photo

BANGALORE, India — The Indian government on Jan. 13 announced the promotion of Indian Space Research Organisation veteran Alur Seelin Kiran Kumar to run the country’s space program for the next three years.

Alur Seelin Kiran Kumar. Credit: ISRO
Alur Seelin Kiran Kumar. Credit: ISRO

Kumar will hold the title of secretary, Department of Space, a position that traditionally includes the roles of ISRO chairman and Space Commission chairman.

Most recently the director of ISRO’s Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad, Kumar succeeds Koppillil Radhakrishnan, who retired Dec 31. Shailesh Nayak, secretary of India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences, had been serving as interim ISRO chairman since then.

Kumar who holds a master’s degree in physical engineering from the Indian Institute of Science here, joined ISRO in 1975 and is credited with developing electro-optical sensors for ISRO’s Earth observing satellites. He also helped steer development of communications and navigation payloads and had a hand in three of the five scientific instruments on ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission, which launched October 2013 and entered martian orbit a year later.

A member of International Academy of Astronautics, Kumar has represented ISRO in international forums including the World Meteorological Organization, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, and the Indo-U.S. Joint Working Group on Civil Space.


Based in Bangalore, Killugudi S. Jayaraman holds a doctorate in nuclear physics from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He was formerly science editor of the...