Rocketing Through the Skies by G. Madhavan Nair

About the Book

Starting from the early days of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) under the guidance
of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to leading the organization himself, G. Madhavan
has had an eventful tenure at ISRO. Nair’s memoir is not just a chronicle of his own life, but
a tribute to the spirit of innovation and exploration that drives the Indian space programme.
This remarkable tale of determination, hard work and unwavering passion begins in a village in Kerala
from the halcyon days of pre-independent India. The sleepless nights in Thumba, the devastation
of failures and the subsequent learning, the exhilaration of successes—all of these are captured in
these pages with insight and candour.

Nair also describes, in terms accessible to the layman, his scientific and managerial contributions
to the launch vehicles from SLV-3, building the workhorse launcher PSLV, traversing the path to an
indigenous cryogenic engine, bringing an orbiting spacecraft back to Earth and even planting the
Indian tricolour on the Moon in Chandrayaan-1.

Challenging episodes are also described from an insider’s perspective. Nair describes the ISRO spy
case, along with addressing Nambinarayanan’s involvement in it. He also offers a comprehensive and
lucid discussion of the Devas Scam, where the battle is still ongoing. Rocketing Through the Skies: An Eventful Life at ISRO is a compelling read that shares a philosophy of life and work that led to great strides in ISRO’s progress over many crucial decades.

About the Author

Renowned rocket technologist G. Madhavan Nair was chairman of the Indian Space Research
Organisation (ISRO) from 2003 to 2009. His tenure witnessed India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission as well
as the seeds of manned missions and the initiation of space-based services like disaster warning,
tele-education and tele-medicine. Joining ISRO under Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 1967, he worked
his way up to become the director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) and the Vikram
Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). He became the first non-American president of the International
Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and was the general president of the 97th Indian Science Congress.
He has been bestowed with several awards, including the National Aeronautical Award, the Padma
Bhushan (1998) and the Padma Vibhushan (2009).

About The Translator
Jaya G. Nair is a post-graduate in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of
Science (IISc), Bengaluru, and served ISRO for nearly three decades in technical and techno-managerial
roles at the ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU) and the VSSC. After voluntary retirement from ISRO,
she is currently pursuing interests in social sciences and literature and writes in both English and
Malayalam. She has collaborated with Madhavan Nair on this book as translator and editor.

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