Renowned space scientist and former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation Prof. Satish Dhawan passed away in Bangalore on Thursday night. Till last year, eighty-two-year-old Dr. Dhawan had been a member of the Space Commission. It was under his leadership that India launched its first satellite, Aryabhatta.
Close to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Prof. Dhawan was in the team which worked under Dr. Vikram Sarabhai alongwith scientists like Abdul Kalam and Brahm Prakash.
He took over as the first Secretary of the Department of Space in 1972 and also became chairman of Space Commission in the same year. He was also the ISRO chairman which was then brought under Department of Space.
Prof. Dhawan has received several awards including Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan and the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration.
Chairman, Space Commission and Secretary, Department of Space K.Kasturirangan mourned his death on Friday. He said Prof. Dhawan had led the Indian Space programme to an astonishing level of maturity and provided a model on how to define, formulate and organise high technology projects and deliver sophisticated products within stipulated time frames.
During Dr.Dhawan’s tenure at ISRO, the ambitious Satellite Instructional Television Experiment was conducted and Satellite Telecommunication Experiments Project was carried out.
The launch of Bhaskara I, second experimental launch of SLV-3 which successfully placed the Rohini satellite in orbit, RS-DI,APPLE satellite, Bhasakara II,INSAT I A,RS-D2,INSAT-1B and the Indo Soviet space mission took place during his term.
To optimise technology and cost Prof. Dhawan stressed on multi purpose satellites like INSAT which is used for communcation, meteorology and broadcasting.
What was striking about Prof. Dhawan was his deep commitment to human values and the use of science and technology for development. The space community in India owes it to Prof. Dhawan for imbuing it with an abiding sense of technological excellence ,human values ,social commitment, Dr Kasturirangan said.
He also said that Prof.Dhawan had also involved the industry in the space programme. Today 30 to 40 per cent of ISRO budget goes to Indian industry to produce and fabricate products for the space programme.