Satish Dhawan

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Satish Dhawan
Satish Dhawan.jpg
Born (1920-09-25)25 September 1920
Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, British India
Died 3 January 2002(2002-01-03) (aged 81)
Fields Mechanical and aerospace Engineering
Institutions Indian Space Research Organization
Indian Institute of Science
California Institute of Technology
National Aerospace laboratories

Indian Academy of Sciences and Indian Space Commission
Alma mater University of Punjab (British India)
University of Minnesota
California Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisor Hans W. Liepmann
Known for Indian space program
Notable awards Padma Vibhushan

Satish Dhawan (25 September 1920 – 3 January 2002) was an Indian aerospace engineer, widely regarded as the father of experimental fluid dynamics research in India. Born in Srinagar, Dhawan was educated in India and further on in the United States. Dhawan was one of the most eminent researchers in the field of turbulence and boundary layers, leading the successful and ingenious development of the Indian space programme. He succeeded Vikram Sarabhai, the founder of the Indian space programme, as Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1972.


Dhawan was a graduate of the University of the Punjab in Lahore, British India (now Pakistan), where he completed a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and Bachelor of Science in physics, followed by a Master of Arts in mathematics from the same institution. In 1943, he moved to the United States to further his education. He attended the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and completed a Bachelor of Engineering in mechanical engineering. In 1947, he completed a Master of Science in aerospace engineering and Aeronautical Engineer’s Degree from the California Institute of Technology followed by a double PhD. in mathematics and aerospace engineering under the supervision of his advisor Dr. Hans W. Liepmann in 1951.

Director, IISc (1962-1981) and Chairman, ISRO (1972-1984)[edit]

Dr. Dhawan joined as faculty at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore in 1951 and became its Director in 1962. He also took over as Chairman of Space Commission and Chairman, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)and Secretary to the Government of India at the Department of Space.

Although he was the head of the Indian space programme, he devoted substantial efforts towards boundary layer research. His most important contributions are presented in the seminal book Boundary Layer Theory by Hermann Schlichting. He set up the country's first supersonic wind tunnel at IISc. He also pioneered research on relaminarization of separated boundary layer flows, three-dimensional boundary layers and trisonic flows.

Support of space research[edit]

Dhawan carried out pioneering experiments in rural education, remote sensing and satellite communications. His efforts led to operational systems like INSAT, a telecommunications satellite; IRS, the Indian Remote Sensing satellite; and the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), that placed India in the league of space faring nations.


Following his death in 2002, the satellite launch centre at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, located about 100 km north of Chennai in South India, was renamed the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Satish Chandra Dhawan Govt. College , Ludhiana is named after him.


  • Senior Scientific Officer, 1951
  • Professor and Head of the Department of Aeronautical Engineering, 1955
  • Director, 1962–1981[1]
  • Visiting Professor, 1971–72
  • Chairman, Research council, 1984–93
  • President, 1977–1979
  • Chairman, 1972–1984
  • Chairman, 1972–2002


  • Padma Vibhushan (India's second highest civilian honour), 1981
  • Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration, 1999
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Indian Institute of Science
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, California Insititute of Technology, 1969


His daughter Jyotsna Dhawan, is a renowned molecular biologist.


  1. Dhawan Satish: Direct measurements of skin friction. Tech. Rep No.1121, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, Washington DC 1953.
  2. Schlichting H, Gersten K: Boundary Layer Theory (8th Revised & Enlarged Edition). Springer, 1999.
  3. Dhawan S: A glimpse of fluid mechanics research in Bangalore 25 years ago. India: Surveys in fluid mechanics Indian Academy of Sciences (Eds. R Narasimha, S M Deshpande) 1-15, 1982.
  4. Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology. (Eds. R Narasimha, APJ Abdul Kalam) Indian Academy of Sciences, 1988.
  5. Dhawan S: Bird flight. Indian Academy of Sciences, 1991.
  6. Dhawan S: Aeronautical Research in India. (22nd British Commonwealth Lecture). J. Royal Aero. Soc. 71, 149-184, 1967.
  7. Special Section on Instabilities, transitions and turbulence. (Ed. R Narasimha) Current Science, 79:725-883, 2000


  1. ^ "About IISc Heritage". Indian Institute of Science. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
M. G. K. Menon
ISRO Chairman
Succeeded by
U. R. Rao

Dilkeshvar kumar civil engg