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G. Madhavan Nair
Nair (right) with A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, 2002
Born (1943-10-31) 31 October 1943 (age 80)
Alma mater
Known forIndian Space Program
ParentGopala Pillai (father)
AwardsPadma Bhushan (1998)
Padma Vibhushan (2009)
Scientific career
FieldsRocket Technology and Electrical and Electronics Engineering
InstitutionsIndian Space Research Organisation
Bhabha Atomic Research Center
Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation
In office
1 September 2003 (2003-09-01) – 29 October 2009 (2009-10-29)
Preceded byKrishnaswamy Kasturirangan
Succeeded byKoppillil_Radhakrishnan

G. Madhavan Nair (born 31 October 1943) is an Indian space scientist and a former Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, and Secretary to the Department of Space, Government of India. His tenure saw commencement of Indian Human Spaceflight Programme and launch of extraterrestrial exploration mission Chandrayaan-I.

He was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Technology Patna until he stepped down due to his involvement in a controversial deal relating to sale of radio spectrum bandwidth involving Antrix.[1] He was subsequently barred from holding any private position

Nair was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honour, on 26 January 2009.[2][3]

Early life

Nair was born in Kulasekharam, Travancore State, (now in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu), India. When Kerala lost Kanyakumari district to Tamil Nadu, Madhavan Nair’s father Gopala Pillai moved to Thiruvananthapuram.[4] He graduated with a B.Sc. in Engineering (1966) from College of Engineering, Trivandrum, of the University of Kerala with specialization in Electronics & Communication Engineering. After his graduation, Nair attended a training program at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) Training School, Mumbai.[5][4]


Nair is a leading technologist in the field of rocket systems and has made significant contribution to the development of multi-stage satellite launch vehicles, achieving self-reliance in independent access to space using indigenous technologies. Nair and his team have advanced their work in the face of several challenges in the regime of technology denials by adopting several innovations and novel techniques to realise world class launch vehicle systems. India today has a pride of place amongst the space-faring nations in launch vehicle technology. Specifically, as Project Director, he led the development of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) which has since become the workhorse for launching mainly Indian remote sensing satellites.[6]

As Director of ISRO's largest R & D Centre, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, he also saw India's Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) successfully come to fruition. Further, as Director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre of ISRO, he played a central role in the design and development of the crucial cryogenic engine for GSLV. A list of Positions held before is listed below:

2010–? Chairman, Centre for Management Development, Trivandrum
2003–2009 Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation, Bangalore
1999–2003 Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Trivandrum
1995–1999 Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Trivandrum
1994–1996 Programme Director, ILVP, VSSC, Trivandrum
1988–1995 Project Director, PSLV, Trivandrum
1984–1988 Associate Project Director, PSLV, Trivandrum
1980–1984 Head, Electronics Systems, VSSC, Trivandrum
1974–1980 Project Engineer, SLV-3 Project, Trivandrum
1972–1974 Project Manager, Telecommand System, VSSC, Trivandrum
1967–1972 Head, Payload Integration Section, TERLS, Trivandrum

As Chairman of ISRO

As the Chairman of Indian Space Research Organization, Nair is entrusted with the responsibility for the development of space technology and its application to national development. During his tenure as Chairman, ISRO/Secretary, DOS, twenty seven successful missions were accomplished i.e., INSAT-3E, Resourcesat-1, Edusat, Cartosat-1, Hamsat-1, INSAT-4A, PSLV-C5, GSLV-F01, PSLV-C6, Cartosat-2, INSAT-4B, SRE-1, PSLV-C7, PSLV-C8, GSLV-F04, INSAT-4CR, PSLV-C10, Cartosat-2A, IMS-1, PSLV-C9, Chandrayaan-1, PSLV-C11, PSLV-C12, RISAT-2, ANUSAT, PSLV-C14 and Ocensat-2 . He has taken initiatives towards development of futuristic technologies to enhance the space systems capabilities as well as to reduce the cost of access to space. Nair has given major thrust for evolving application programmes such as tele-education and telemedicine for meeting the needs of society at large. As Chairman Space Commission, Nair is responsible for chalking out the future plan for space research in the country. Major thrust are in scientific exploration of outer space using the Astrosat and Chandrayaan (Moon) missions apart from implementing schemes for telemedicine, tele-education and disaster management support systems. He is also providing guidance and leadership in undertaking new technology developments related to launch vehicle, spacecraft for communication, remote sensing and applications programmes to meet societal needs.[citation needed]

In the international arena, Nair has led the Indian delegations for bilateral cooperation and negotiations with many Space Agencies and Countries, specially with France, Russia, Brazil, Israel, etc., and has been instrumental in working out mutually beneficial international cooperative agreements. Nair has led the Indian delegation to the S&T Sub-Committee of United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) since 1998.[citation needed]

His main focus has always been to achieve self-reliance in the high technology areas and to bring the benefits of space technology to India's development, specially targeting the needs of the rural and poor sections of society.[citation needed]

Establishment of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology

G. Madhavan Nair initiated and implemented the establishment of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram. There were some objections and impediments in its establishment.[citation needed]

Controversies in S-Band Devas Scam

The contract signed between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia Private Limited on 28 January 2005 during Nair's tenure as chairman of ISRO and secretary of Department of Space, was controversial. As a consequence of it, on 25 January 2012 he was barred from holding any government jobs.[7] As of August 2017, he was still awaiting trial.[8]

Additional responsibilities

Nair has promoted space science and technology for the socio-economic benefit of India, he is also the Chairman of the Governing Body of the Antrix Corporation, Bangalore. He was chairman of the National Remote Sensing Agency until it became National Remote Sensing Centre.[citation needed]

He was president of Astronautical Society of India in 2004 and of the Aeronautical Society of India in 2005, as well as vice-president of the Scientific Activities Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) from 2006. In August 2009, he was elected president of the IAA. He is the only Indian and the first non-American to IAA.[9]

Nair was General President of the 97th Indian Science Congress 2009-2010 and first chairman of the board of governors of Indian Institute of Technology Patna.[10]


Nair has won several awards such as National Aeronautical Award, FIE Foundation's Award, Shri Om Prakash Bhasin Award, Swadeshi Sastra Puraskar Award, Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Gold Medal of the Indian Science Congress Association, Dr.Yelavarthy Nayudamma Memorial Award-2004, HK Firodia Award-2005, Fifth "Shri Balvantbhai Parekh Award", Lokmanya Tilak Award from Tilak Smarak Trust, "Sree Chithira Thirunal Award" from Sree Chithira Thirunal Trust, "MP Birla Memorial Award 2009", "Bhu Ratna Award", "Mohamed Abdu Rahiman Sahib National Award", "AV Rama Rao Technology Award", "Chanakya Award" etc., He has also received Gold Medal from the Prime Minister at the 94th Indian Science Congress at Chidambaram in 2007. He received M M Chugani award for 2006, conferred by Indian Physics Association at IIT Mumbai during March 2008. He was also conferred with "Raja Rammohan Puraskar" award on the 236th birth anniversary of Raja Rammohan Roy at Kolkata during May 2008.[citation needed]

The Government of India awarded Nair the Padma Bhushan in 1998 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2009.[11]

Nair has received numerous honorary degrees, including:[citation needed]



In August 2017, Nair's autobiography, titled Agnipareekshakal, was published.[8] English translation of autobiography, titled “Rocketing through the skies : An eventful life at ISRO” was published in August 2023. [14]

See also


  1. ^ "Former ISRO chief steps down from IIT-Patna board". Times of India.
  2. ^ "Padma Vibhushan for Kakodkar, Madhavan Nair, Nirmala". The Hindu. 26 January 2009. Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 14 February 2009.
  3. ^ "The other side of the moon". The New Indian Express. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  4. ^ a b archive, From our online (15 May 2012). "The other side of the moon". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 24 March 2024.
  5. ^ "The other side of the moon - The New Indian Express". 4 May 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  6. ^ Madhavan Nair Archived 15 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine at ISRO
  7. ^ "Madhavan Nair barred from govt jobs, points finger at ISRO chief". DNA India. PTI. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Madhavan Nair's autobiography to be out tomorrow". The Hindu. 4 August 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  9. ^ "G Madhavan Nair To Head International Academy of Astronautics". Archived from the original on 12 September 2009.
  10. ^ Board of Governors, IIT Patna
  11. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  12. ^ "G. Madhavan Nair is Chief guest at Gyan Vihar University". Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  13. ^ "Satyarthi's '3D' model: Dream, discover, do". Times of India. 21 February 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  14. ^ Basu, Soma (31 August 2023). "The sky is not the limit: Probing the minds of scientists associated with ISRO". The Hindu.
Government offices Preceded byKrishnaswami Kasturirangan Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation 2003 - 2009 Succeeded byK. Radhakrishnan Preceded byS. Srinivasan Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre 1999 - 2003 Succeeded byB. N. Suresh