Padma Shri Dr Mylswamy Annadurai - ‘The Moon Man’

One man who played a key role in Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan projects as director of ISRO

                                                                                                                                                                                                     - by  Hari Lakshman

TN Mylswamy ADr Mylswamy Annadurai was Director, U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) from April 01, 2015 to July 31, 2018. Before taking over as Director, URSC, he was Programme Director for Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) and Small Satellite Systems (SSS) at URSC, Bengaluru.

Annadurai has been listed among the 100 Global thinkers of 2014 and tops the innovator’s list. Annadurai and his works are mentioned in 10th standard Science Text Book of Tamil Nadu.

In India, unless it is a Super star Hero or cricketer, usually draws no attention, even if you are the man who literally put India on the moon and Mars Orbits. The Indian Frontliners is proud to honor Dr Mylswamy Annadurai – popularly known as India’s ‘moon man’.

“In order to be a problem solver, it is necessary to be an innovator,” said Annadurai. According to Annadurai, all innovations start with a simple and crazy idea but they need to be developed systematically and meticulously.

Personal Background

Dr.Annadurai with Dr.AbdulkalamDr Mylswamy Annadurai was born on 2nd July 1958, at Kodhawady near Pollachi in Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu, India.

Economic use of resources was the norm at Annadurai’s home. His family lived on the income of his father, a primary school teacher, who drew a monthly salary of around Rs 120. Annadurai’s father used his tailoring skills and the sewing machine at home to make some extra money, since the income from his job was not sufficient to meet the family’s needs.

His father, who was a teacher, taught him in the evenings from books of one class higher than the one he was studying in. This way, he kept him a step ahead in academics. His mother told him ‘stories in the moonlight’. 

He had his primary education at the village school, which was initially a cow shed that was converted into a classroom.

He was a district topper in SSLC. He did his PUC from Nallamuthu Gounder Mahalingam College in Pollachi, where he passed out as a gold medallist.

Dr MA0His journey from a rural settlement in Tamil Nadu to the awesome technological realms of space has been successful because of his decision to listen to the inner voice. “My father wanted me to take a course in literature and contribute to literary enrichment. I decided to join engineering as I liked to spend more time studying mathematics and science at school.”

Later, he did his entire higher education from Coimbatore – his BE from Government College of Technology, his Master’s from PSG College of Technology, and his PhD from Anna University of Technology.

His wife Mrs. Vasanthi Annadurai is a homemaker and manages his life too. “She takes care of my passbook, credit card, everything else.His son, Mr. Gokul Kannan, 26, works in Bosch in Bengaluru.

Dr Mylswamy Annadurai considers his wife Mrs. Vasanthi Annadurai one of his biggest fans. She collects even small snippets of news about her husband.

His wife Mrs. Vasanthi said Annadurai has always been fascinated with the moon. She recalled as a young scientist during early days of marriage he would lie on the rooftop of the house and gaze at the moon for hours.

At India's Space Headquarters

Dr MA3Dr Mylswamy Annadurai Joining ISRO in 1982 at the age of 24, he began his career at ISRO Satellite Centre as the team leader to design and develop the Software Satellite Simulator.

He served as spacecraft operations manager for the IRS (Indian Remote Sensing)-1A, IRS-1B, INSAT (Indian National Satellite System)-2A, and INSAT-2B satellite programs. He then held the post of deputy project director before being promoted to mission director of the INSAT-2C program and of the INSAT-2D, 2E, 3B, 3E, and GSAT (Geosynchronous Satellite)-1 programs.

  • 1982: Joined ISRO and following is his career ladder in ISRO,
  • 1985: Team leader to develop S/W satellite Simulator
  • 1988: Spacecraft operations manager,IRS-1A
  • 1992: Spacecraft operations manager, INSAT-2A
  • 1993: Spacecraft operations manager, INSAT-2B
  • 1994: Deputy Project Director, INSAT-2C
  • 1996: Mission Director, INSAT-2C
  • 1997: Mission Director, INSAT-2D
  • 1999: Mission Director,INSAT-2E
  • 2000: Mission Director,INSAT-3B
  • 2001: Mission Director,GSAT-1
  • 2003: Mission Director,INSAT-3E
  • 2003: Associate Project, Director,EDUSAT
  • 2004: Project Director,Chandrayaan-1
  • 2008: Project Director,Chandrayaan-2
  • 2011: Programme Director, IRS & SSS (Indian Remote Sensing & Small, Science and Student Satellites)
  • 2015: Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore

Chandrayaan Mission

Dr MA5“Out-of-the-box ideas helped Chandrayaan-I. On 22nd  October 2008, His  major  successful mission in ISRO was Chandrayaan -1. It was India’s first mission to the moon launched by ISRO. Annadurai was program director for India’s lunar probes Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2.

India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft have created the first global map of water in the Moon's soil. In the 60s and 70s, people who landed on a Moon, they declared moon as barren with no water.

“Now, the Indian flag is flying there and is paving the way for future generations and travel from Moon to Mars is relatively cheaper than from Earth. A mission like Chandrayaan-I opens up new vistas,” he explains.

During the period 2004-2008, as the Project Director for Chandrayaan I, he led a team of engineers and scientists that designed and developed the project to carry instrumentation from ISRO and from NASA, ESA, and Bulgaria to accomplish simultaneous chemical, mineralogical, resource and topographic mapping of the entire lunar surface at high spatial and spectral resolutions

Chandrayaan-1 was well praised and received many awards including Space Pioneers award for science and engineering at 28th International conference on Space development, in Florida USA in 2009.

In 2011, Dr Mylswamy Annadurai became the Programme Director of Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) and Small Satellite Systems (SSS) and realized five satellite projects.

Mars Mission (Red Planet)

Dr MA6Not just the moon, but Mars as well. On September 24, 2014, India achieved an incredible feat in the space technology field. In its maiden attempt, India became the first Asian nation to reach the Mars orbit, and the first nation in the world to do so in its first attempt. One man who led the team ,  held it all together and made us proud is Dr Mylswamy Annadurai.

India's $74 million Mars mission cost less than $100 million 'Gravity' movie.India's space agency put the satellite into orbit for a fraction of what other nations have spent.

For example The U.S. Maven mission to Mars that cost $671 million. The European Space Agency's 2003 mission to Mars had an initial budget of nearly $200 million.

The Mars Orbiter Mission was launched on 5 November 2013 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. After travelling 670 million kilometers, reached the planet on 24 September2014 completing its 300-day journey. ISRO took over a year to work on the spacecraft and bring the project to implementation stage.

Beyond being  Scientist

Dr MA4Apart from his scientific work, he has got fervor on tamil language. He is honorary author of ‘valarumariviyal’ magazine. He is proficient in both languages tamil and English, good orator, poet,Essay writer and more over best human being whose heart is filled with humanity.

He has written three books in Tamil namely, "KaiyarukeNila", “SiragaivirikkumMangalyaan”and "AriviyalKalanjiyam". The Book" KaiyarukeNila" has won S. P. Adithanar Literary award for the year 2013. He also authors a book "Valarum Ariviayal part-2" along with Dr. E.K.T Siva Kumar, founder of ESRO - Educational and Social Research Organization

He writes regular weekly columns in Tamil periodicals to explain rocket science in simple language to inspire the youth. Also, during holidays, Annadurai loves to tour across the country, meeting and interacting with the students to spread awareness on science and technology.

Awards and Achievements

He has been awarded the prestigious Padma Shri, 2016 for his contributions in the field of Science & Engineering by the President of India. Till now Padma Shri Annadurai has received more than seventy five awards, notable among them are,

Awards  from central/state  Government

  1. Padma Shri, 2016 for Science and Technology by Government of India
  2. Rajyostava Prashasti for Science (2008) by Government of Karnataka .

Awards  from ISRO

  1. ISRO Outstanding Achievement award, 2014
  2. Hariom Ashram pretit Vikram Sarabhai Research Award for the outstanding Contributions to Systems analysis and Space systems management(2004).
  3. A citation from ISRO for contribution to the INSAT systems Mission management(2003)
     
  4. Team Excellence award for contribution to Indian Space Program(2007).
  5. ISRO Merit Award 2009
  6. Team Excellence Award 2010 as team leader of Chandrayaan-1 team

Awards from Academic Institution

  1. Doctor of Science, DSc (Honoris Causa) by MGR University, Chennai (2008)
  2. Doctor of Science, DSc (Honoris Causa) , Central University, Pondicherry (2009)
  3. Doctor of Science, DSc (Honoris Causa) by Anna University, Chennai(2009)
  4. Doctor of Science, DSc (Honoris Causa) by University of Madras, Chennai (2009
  5. Eminent Scientist Award from 76th Indian Science Congress - Madurai Kamaraj University Endowment
  6. Hikal Chemcon Distinguished Speaker Award 2010,the 63rd Annual Session of Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers, Annamalai University.
  7. National Science and Technology Award, 2011, Sathyabama University, Chennai.
  8. Distinguished Scientist Award, KC College, Mumbai, Diamond Jubilee Award
  9. Distinguished Alumni Award, PSG College of Technology, 2009.
  10. Jewel of GCT(Government College of Technology, Coimbatore) by GCT Alumni
  11. Personality of the year Awarded by St. Johns International School, Chennai
  12. SIES (South Indian Education Society) Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati National Eminence Award, 2009 for Science and Technology
  13. Listed in the Dinamalar-Uninor Achiever of the year 2009,
  14. Amara Bharathi National Eminence Award for Science and Technology, 2010
  15. Sir CV Raman Award-2010 from Periyar University, Salem

Awards & Recognition from  International bodies

  1. Space Systems award, 2009 from American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, US
  2. Laurels for Team Achievement Chandrayaan-1, International Academy of Astronautics,2013, Beijing China
  3. Certificate of Appreciation from Boeing Asian - American professional Association, Houston, USA
  4. Listed among 100 Global thinkers of 2014 and topped the innovators list, by Foreign Policy Magazine , USA
  5. Chairman, Working Group of the Whole in UN Committee on Peaceful Use of Outer Space, since 2016
  6. IEI-IEEE(USA) Engineering Excellence award 2016

Awards From Professional Bodies & Societies

  1. Vivekananda Award for Human Excellence by Rama Krishna Missions
  2. National Aeronautical Award-2008 from Aeronautical Society of India
  3. Fellow, Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering, (IETE)
  4. Fellow, Indian Society for Remote Sensing (ISRS)
  5. Fellow of The Society for shock wave research, Dept.of Aerospace Eng, Indian Institute of Science (IISC), Bangalore
  6. NIQR Bajaj Award for "Outstanding Quality Man 2009"
  7. H K Firodia awards, 2009 for Science and Technology
  8. Dr Rajah Sir Muthiah Chettiar Birthday Commemoration Award for 2012.
  9. Listed in the TNIE-Uninor Achiever of the year 2009,
  10. Global Indian for Science, 2017 awarded by ICICI and Times Group
  11. BHASKARA Award 2016 for outstanding Scientific Leadership, by Remote Sensing Society
  12. Dr MA2Life Time Achievement Award 2017 in the field of science and technology by Union Bank of India, Mumbai
  13. Karmaveerar Kamaraj Award,2010 from Chennai Mhahajana sabha
  14. Tamilan Award 2016, for Science and Technology by Puthia Thalaimurai
  15. Life time Achievement Award for promotion of Science 2017, Muthamizh Peravai

“Always set high standards, aim for something that is beyond your reach and work towards it. On14 Nov 2008, after Chandrayaan-1 success Mr. Kalam congratulated me and said, ‘Good, you havedone it…what is the next?’ That inspires me to work harder,” he says.

Kalam is his icon and the book he has held on to since his college days is the Bhagavad Gita.  On today’s youth, he sees, “ a ray of hope in them. The future looks bright.”

He tells the youngsters to value every minute of their lives."Opportunities are aplenty and you can make manymore Chandrayaans."

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