“I feel deeply honoured. All in the family are also elated. It is the recognition for the team members,” S. Arunan, project director for India’s Mars mission.
The other Padma Shri awardee S.K. Shivkumar, director of the Indian Space Research Organisation Satellite Centre, told: “My family and I are really happy. We do not work with an aim to get an award. But when it comes, it is really a nice feeling.”
Shivkumar played a key role in building India’s deep space network (DSN) that was used in tracking two inter-planetary satellites — Chandrayaan and Mars Orbiter.
India became the first country to send a spacecraft successfully to Mars in 2013. The Mars Orbiter was inserted in the Martian orbit Sep 24, 2014.
Arunan is the son-in-law of S. Nambi Narayanan, who was in charge of the ISRO cryogenic engine division and was falsely charged in a case of espionage.
He was held not guilty, and the charges against him were dismissed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
It was Narayanan who introduced liquid fuel technology in India and ISRO’s rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) flies on that. It was a PSLV rocket that was used in the Mars Mission.