P. Veeramuthuvelu is an Indian scientist, who works in the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). In 2019, he became the Project Director of the third Indian lunar exploration mission Chandrayaan-3, which made a successful landing on the moon in August 2023. He has also served on important posts in several space exploration projects undertaken by ISRO.
Palanivenu Veeramuthuvel was born on Friday, 22 October 1976 (age 47 years; as of 2023) in Villupuram district (also spelt as Vizhuppuram), Tamil Nadu, India. His zodiac sign is Libra. After completing his schooling at the Railway Mixed Hs Secondary School Viluppuram in Tamil Nadu, he pursued a diploma in mechanical engineering at a private polytechnic college in Tamil Nadu. Thereafter, he enrolled at Sri Sairam Engineering College in Tamil Nadu, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2001. Later, Veeramuthuvel joined the National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli (also known as NIT Trichy), where he earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a specialisation in systems engineering in 2002. In 2011, he pursued a PhD in Mechanical Design and Optimization at the Indian Institute of Technology Madaras (IITM); he completed his PhD in 2017. He has also done numerous engineering courses in the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and France. P. Veeramuthuvel – Facebook
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Parents & Siblings
His father, P. Palaniven, served as a technician in the Southern Railways division of the Indian Railways. His mother is a homemaker.
Wife & Children
He is married and has a daughter. He got married on 10 February 2008.
Before the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
In January 2003, Veeramuthuvel shifted to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, where he joined Lakshmi Machine Works Limited as a senior engineer. He worked in the company till January 2004. He worked in Bengaluru at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre from January 2004 to December 2004. There, he worked on numerous projects aimed at developing indigenous aircrafts for the Indian Armed Forces.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
In December 2004, Veeramuthuvel joined the ISRO as a Scientist Engineer (SE). In an interview, he talked about getting a job at ISRO and said,
As a student of engineering, I nurtured a dream – to work in the field of space in ISRO. But it took me some years to get there. After completing my M. Tech in Mechanical Engineering, I spent some years in a private company, and then in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru. During this period, I never lost focus on my ultimate destination – ISRO.”
Thereafter, he was on the team of scientists involved in constructing different types of remote sensing satellites for India as well as other countries. He has also played an important role in the making of the satellite and delivery vessel for the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), which is also known as Mangalyaan. He was later appointed as the deputy director for the Space Infrastructure Programme at ISRO’s central office. There, he played a vital role in the implementation of projects to improve the infrastructure of ISRO’s launch stations.
He later served as the associate project director of India’s second lunar probe mission Chandrayaan-2 under the Project Director Muthayya Vanitha. In the project, he played an important role in coordinating with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to increase the mission’s potential of being a success. He was also involved in the team that was negotiating with NASA to acquire a Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA) for the mission. The mission, however, was unsuccessful as the Vikram lander crashed on the surface of the moon rather than softly touching down. The ISRO’s official statement, citing the cause of the failure, read,
During the second phase of descent, the reduction in velocity was more than the designed value. Due to this deviation, the initial conditions at the start of the fine braking phase were beyond the designed parameters. As a result, Vikram hard-landed within 500 metres of the designated landing site on the moon.”
In 2019, after the inception of the third lunar probe mission Chandrayaan-3, Veeramuthuvel replaced Vanitha as the project director. He talked about his appointment as the project director in an interview and said,
The Government of India has given me another mission – Chandrayaan-3. In November 2019, the Chairman of ISRO and the Director of my center appointed me as the Project Director for this next lunar mission.”
Under his leadership, the Chandrayaan-3 team worked on improving the propulsion system for transporting the lander and rover, the three-legged, box-shaped Vikram lander to aid in gently landing the spacecraft on the moon, and the Pragyan rover designed to perform research and exploration tasks on the lunar surface. The LVM3-M4 rocket, carrying the Chandrayaan-3, was launched on schedule from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre Second Launch Pad in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, at 2:35 pm IST on 14 July 2023.
After travelling through space for thirty-nine days, the spacecraft reached its destination, i.e., the South Pole of the moon, on 23 August 2023. The spacecraft made a soft touchdown on the surface at 6:04 pm IST.
After the successful landing, the entire team that worked on the project was congratulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the European Space Agency (ESA). ISRO Chief S. Somanath, through a video call, informed the PM of Chandrayaan-3’s success and said,
We have archived soft landing on the moon. India is on the Moon.”
- His name is also spelt as Veera Muthuvel and Veeramuthuvel Palanivelu. P. Veeramuthuvel – Facebook
- He follows the preachings of Sadhguru. In an interview, he revealed that he took Sadhguru’s blessings before taking over as the project director of Chandrayaan-3. Talking about it, he said,
Before embarking on this momentous and challenging journey, I sought Sadhguru’s blessings. It was my good fortune that I met Sadhguru in person with my wife at the Isha Yoga Center and got his blessings and good wishes for the success of this project.”
- As a scientist, he has authored numerous research papers that have been published in well-known scientific journals. He published a research paper in 2016 on a vibration control system in the spacecraft’s electronic package, which helped ISRO develop technology to keep the equipment onboard a rocket safe and secure from violent turbulence.
- During a media interaction, Veeramuthuvel revealed that he started practising yoga and meditation in 2009 while pursuing M.Tech. He further said that his and his family’s association with Sadhguru’s yoga and meditation programs began after his friend introduced him to the Isha Yoga Center in Tamil Nadu.
- After the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3, Veeramuthuvel’s father got emotional and expressed a sense of pride in his son’s achievements. Later, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. K. Stalin, spoke to him and Veeramuthuvel on the phone, congratulating them on the achievement.
VIDEO | Chandrayaan-3 project director P Veeramuthuvel's father turned emotional watching the successful landing of Vikram lander on the Moon's surface. #Chandrayaan3 #Chandrayaan3Landing #ISRO pic.twitter.com/bC6UJQtgP4
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) August 23, 2023
- Following Chandrayaan-3’s successful moon landing, Google launched a new doodle on 24 August 2023 in which it portrayed the Pragyan rover at the moon’s south pole.