December 18, 2006 – Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Dr K Kasturirangan, Member of Rajya Sabha and Director, National Institute of Advanced Sciences and, former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), as an Academician of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
The Pontifical Academy was founded in Rome on August 17, 1603 to promote the progress of mathematical, physical and natural sciences and the study of epistemological problems relating thereto. The academicians are chosen on the basis of their eminent original scientific studies and of their acknowledged moral personality, without any ethnic or religious discrimination, and are nominated for life by sovereign act of the Holy Father.
This international and interdisciplinary scientific body is subject to the direct authority of the Supreme Pontiff. The academicians will contribute to the activities of the Academy and attend its Plenary Session during October-November every two years and participate in other scientific matters organised by the Academy.
Dr Kasturirangan has made immense contribution to the Indian space programme including the development of launch vehicles and satellite technology, application in the areas of remote sensing, communications and education that have greatly benefited the society.
The Pontifical Academy has about 90 Academicians of which 29 are Nobel Laureates. Dr Kasturirangan is only the fourth Indian to be appointed to the Academy after Dr C V Raman, Prof M G K Menon and Prof C N R Rao. The Holy Father will present Dr Kasturirangan the insignia of his appointment at a solemn pontifical audience sometime in the near future.