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A small town institution provided the engines for Chandrayaan-3

A small town institution provided the engines for Chandrayaan-3

Many lesser-known engineering colleges in India also generate kids the nation can be proud of. The IITs, India’s finest technical institutes, are recognised on a global scale for the talented students they produce. Few people know that an engineering college in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu developed the motors for the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, even though major private manufacturers like Godrej Aerospace and L&T are well-known for their involvement.

A stepper motor was created by Sona College of Technology students and researchers for the LVM-3 rocket, which launched the Chandrayaan-3 satellite and put it into Earth orbit. The college’s research team created the simplex permanent magnet stepper motor for the actuator assembly of LVM-3, which managed the ratio of liquid fuel to oxidizer in the rocket engine. The motor was created by the college, but Vee Technologies, a private firm, produced it.

In April of this year, ISRO completed the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) autonomous landing mission at Chitradurga in Karnataka, marking a significant development milestone for India’s reusable launch vehicle comparable to a space shuttle. Sona SPEED (Sona Special Power Electronics and Electric Drives), the R&D division of the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Sona College of Technology, has created a crucial component for this ISRO project.

The helicopter hoist’s SONA 25kW quadruple BLDC motor was utilised to elevate the RLV to a height of 4.5 kilometres before releasing it to make an autonomous landing at Chitradurga. The college’s research team supplied parts for Chandrayaan-2. Students from Sona College of Technology and students from five other colleges launched a student PICO satellite from the ISRO facilities in 2017.

“We are privileged to contribute to ISRO’s Moon mission through R&D work at the Sona College of Technology. The research team is committed to supporting Isro’s future space missions too,” SonaSPEED’s head, Prof. N. Kannan, recently said.

Talent at the bottom

While it is no small achievement for a lesser-known engineering institution to contribute to a groundbreaking space mission, many of the top scientists employed by the government, including those working on ISRO’s Chandrayaan project, are graduates of regional engineering colleges rather than the prestigious IITs.


An RTI request a few years ago revealed that only 2% of the ISRO staff were graduates of IITs and NITs. It demonstrates the breadth of India’s scientific potential, and the magnitude of yesterday’s accomplishment will give Indian research a boost.

Congressman Shashi Tharoor noted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that ISRO director S. Somnath attended the TKM College of Engineering in Kollam, Kerala, and that many of his coworkers attended the College of Engineering in Thiruvananthapuram (CET). He said at least seven additional CET engineers worked on the Chandrayaan-3 project.

“Indians are understandably enthralled with the IITs, but let’s recognise the graduates of underappreciated engineering schools who devote their lives to serving the public good and who form the foundation of national businesses like @ISRO. CETians brought us to the moon, whereas IITians travelled to Silicon Valley.

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