Mr. S. Somanath is the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) of ISRO, the lead centre of ISRO responsible for design and realization of launch vehicles. Before taking on this position he became in June 2015 the Director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), the lead centre of ISRO responsible for the design and realization of liquid propulsion systems for launch vehicle and spacecraft programs. Prior to this assignment, he has been the Associate Director (Projects) of VSSC. He also held various other important positions at VSSC such as Project Manager-Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV); Deputy Director for Structures Entity/Propulsion & Space Ordnance Entity; and Project Director, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk-III). Mr. Somanath, born in July 1963, graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Kerala University, with 2ndRank in the University; and completed his Post Graduation in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore with a Gold Medal for his meritorious performance. Concurrently with his work, he is also pursuing his Doctoral thesis in Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. Mr. Somanath has been associated with ISRO, since 1985.
Mr. Somanath is an expert in ISRO in the areas of launch vehicle structural systems, structural dynamics, mechanisms, pyro systems and launch vehicle integration. While the pioneering contributions made by him to the mechanical integration designs have made PSLV a highly sought-after launcher for microsatellites from across the world; he, with his professional acumen, has provided technology leadership for designing the GSLV MkIII. He has been instrumental in finalizing the detailed configuration engineering of the GSLV MkIII vehicle after its preliminary definition, which involved simplification of certain systems and adoption of proven technologies leading to minimizing the technology risks. He is also the recipient of Space Gold Medal from Astronautical Society of India (ASI), Performance Excellence Award-2014 and Team Excellence Award-2014 for GSLV Mk-III realization, from ISRO.
He is a Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) and Corresponding Member of International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).