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Diagnosed with cancer on Aditya-L1 launch day, cured now: Isro chief




chairman S Somanath, who led a team to land India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the Moon’s virgin South Pole and also successfully launched India’s first solar mission, was diagnosed with cancer on the day the country’s Aditya-L1 spacecraft was launched on September 2 last year. The diagnosis came as a shock for him and his family, Somanath disclosed during a media interview. He, however, clarified that his recovery has been nothing short of a miracle.
“There were some health issues during the Chandrayaan-3 mission. However, it was not clear to me (during the Moon mission). I did not have a clear understanding of it. That was when Aditya-L1 was launched (Sept 2). That occurred after two months. On the day,

Aditya L1

was launched, I conducted a scan in the morning of that day. That was when I realised that I had a growth in my stomach. I gained a clue about it as soon as the launch occurred. After the launch, I went to Chennai and underwent a scan and rest of the tests. Within 2-3 days, I was able to confirm that there was a growth in my stomach. It was a hereditary disease,” he said during an interview to a Malayalam media house.
Somanath later underwent an operation as part of the treatment. “Following Aditya-L1, I was advised to undergo an operation. The operation was performed. I spent four days in the hospital. After that, I underwent chemotherapy. I had to endure all this,” he said.
However, the Isro chief clarified that he is fine now. “Now I am completely cured. I resumed work soon after I was discharged. Though I faced some initial problems after the operation, I don’t experience any pain now. I will be undergoing regular check-ups every year.”

Speaking about his experience, the Isro 59-year-old chief said, “It was a shock for the family. But now, I perceive cancer and its treatment as a solution.”
Somanath is currently overseeing several key space missions like Gaganyaan, India’s own space station project and Venus mission to name a few.
Before taking over the head of the elite space agency, Somanath had served as the director of Thiruvananthapuram-based

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre

and director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre. He is known for his contributions to launch vehicle design, particularly in the areas of launch vehicle systems engineering, structural design, structural dynamics, and pyrotechnics.
Born in a Malayali family in Alappuzha district of Kerala, Somanath did a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from IISc, Bangalore, with specialisation in dynamics and control. He has a PhD from IIT Madras.

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