Rupa to publish Rocketing Through the Skies: An Eventful Life at ISRO by G. Madhavan Nair


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 Nair 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.


Renowned rocket technologist G. Madhavan Nair was chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from 2009 to 2013. 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).

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