Childhood & Early Life
Mylswamy Annadurai was born on 2nd July 1958 in Kothavadi, Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu to A. Mylswamy and M. Balasaraswathy.
His father, A. Mylswamy, was a primary school teacher who also worked as a tailor to earn some extra money for the family.
Mylswamy Annadurai was the eldest of the five siblings and went to panchayat union school in his village for his primary education. His high school education happened in Kinathikadavu.
He joined Government College of Technology, Coimbatore to do his bachelors in engineering (electronics and communication). After its completion in 1980, he took admission in PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore and finished his master’s degree in 1982. He completed his PH.D from Anna University of Technology, Coimbatore.
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After completing his studies, he applied for job at ISRO and finally joined it in 1982.
In 1985, he was the team leader at ISAC (ISRO Satellite Centre) and worked to design and develop Software Satellite Simulator.
Between 1988 and 1993, he served as Spacecraft operations manager for IRS-1A, INSAT-2A and INSAT-2B.
In 1994, he became the Deputy Project Director for INSAT-2C. Between 1996 and 2003, he was appointed the Mission director for INSAT 2C, INSAT 2D, INSAT 2E, INSAT 3B, GSAT-1 and INSAT 3E.
In 2003, he served as Associate Project Director for EDUSAT, India’s first satellite dedicated for tele-education.
Between 2004 and 2008, he was appointed the project director of ‘Chandrayaan I’, India's first mission to the Moon. In this capacity, he headed a team of engineers and scientists and made significant contribution to the project.
‘Chandrayaan I’ was successfully launched on October 22, 2008 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. The objective of the mission was to study the lunar surface and create a complete map of the chemical and mineralogical composition at the surface and three-dimensional topography.
With the success of the first mission, he was appointed the project director of ‘Chandrayaan II’ in 2008.
In 2011, he took up the role of Programme director, IRS & SSS (Indian Remote Sensing & Small, Science and Student Satellites) and led the launch of satellites like Resoursat-2A, (2) YOUTHSAT, Megha-Tropiues, and RISAT-1.
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Mylswamy Annadurai was also associated with the launch of India’s first and the extremely prestigious interplanetary mission, ‘The Mars Orbiter Mission’ or the ‘Mangalyaan’. In the mission, which was launched in November 2013, he worked as the Programme Director.
The key objective of the mission was to develop technologies needed for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission. Additionally, it aimed at exploring Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and atmosphere.
From April 2015 to July 2018, he became the director of U R Rao Satellite Centre, formerly known as ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) in Bangalore. Here, he led a team of managers and engineers to realize 29 satellites including seven each in communication and navigation, eight in earth observation and one each in science and meteorology. He also guided the launch of three Nano and five student satellites.
A number of other satellites like GSAT-11 and G-29 were completed for launch in near future. Additionally, seven satellites including Chandrayaan-2 reached their final stages of assembly and integration.
He played a key role in production of more state-of-the-art satellites in lesser amount of time and money. For this, numerous innovative steps were taken like standardization of satellite hardware systems and making the supply chain management more effective. Due to this, it became possible to make around 18 satellites annually from 2018.
After retirement from ISRO, he took up the position of Vice President in Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology in 2019. In the same year, he was also appointed the Chairman of the Board of Governors, National Design and Research Forum.
He is also acclaimed writer who has authored five books in Tamil namely ‘Kaiyaruke Nila’, ‘Siragai Virikkum Mangalyaan’, ‘Valarum Ariviyal’, ‘Ariviyal Kalanjiyam’ and ‘Vinnum Mannum’. The first of these books won ‘S. P. Adithanar Literary award’ in 2013.
Mylswamy Annadurai successfully worked as the Project Director of the India’s first Lunar Mission, ‘Chandrayaan-1’. The spacecraft carried 11 scientific instruments, 5 of them built in India and rest from other countries. This was a difficult task both technically and managerially.
The mission achieved a lot including discovery of presence of water molecules in lunar soil. The mission also encouraged India's space program in a major way as the country became one of the few Asian nations to explore the moon.
The success of the mission brought with it a lot of appreciation and accolades, most notably the ‘Space Pioneer Award’, 2009.
He was the Programme Director of India’s first interplanetary mission, ‘Mars Orbiter Mission’. The mission made ISRO the fourth space agency to reach Mars, the other three being Roscosmos, NASA, and the European Space Agency.
India became the first country in Asia to reach Martian orbit and more importantly the first country in the world to achieve this goal in its very first attempt. The mission also became the least expensive Mars mission in the world.
The success of the mission won the MOM team the 2015 ‘Space Pioneer Award’ in the science and engineering category. The award was given by National Space Society. China, too, recognized the success by referring MOM as the ‘Pride of Asia’.