Bengaluru, Jan 1: After spearheading the Indian Space Research Organisation triumphantly through several milestones, its Chairman K Radhakrishnan retired carrying the crowning glory of the much-hailed India's mission to Mars.
Indian space scientists bid a 'sombre' farewell describing Mr Radhakrishnan an "iconic leader" as his exit left the space agency at what ISRO on its Facebook called "at its most glorified pedestal ever."
Mr Radhakrishnan, a recipient of Padma- Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, was recently chosen as one of the top ten scientific personalities in 2014 by Nature Science Journal.
After completing his graduation in Electrical Engineering from Kerala University, he joined Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in 1972 and rose through the ranks, in brisk space.
Mr Radhakrishnan was handpicked by Prof Satish Dhawan - the then Chairman of ISRO, to control and monitor the Budget and Economic Analysis activities at the ISRO headquarters.
He never looked back since then and the acme of his achievement was the "Mangalyaan" mission to the red planet.
India made space history on September 24 when its low-cost Mars spacecraft was successfully placed in orbit around the red planet in its very first attempt, breaking into an elite club of three nations.
The Rs. 450-crore MOM Mangalyaan is the cheapest inter-planetary mission that, at just USD 74 million, costing less than the estimated USD 100 million budget of the sci-fi blockbuster "Gravity" and a tenth of NASA's Mars mission Maven, entered the Martian orbit on September 22.
European, American and Russian probes have managed to orbit or land on the planet, but after several attempts.
MOM feat gave a boost to India's global standing in space.
Mangalyaan was named among the best inventions of 2014 by TIME magazine which described it as a technological feat that will allow India to flex its "interplanetary muscles."
Describing Radhakrishnan as a 'Man of Steel', ISRO said he is an efficient engineer, "magnificent" manager, an impeccable institution builder and an inspiring leader.
It said "Team ISRO is determined - to strive harder to match the standard that he set and of course carry the organisation to much higher level from here."
"Sir, it has really been an honour for all of us to be a part of your team - wishing you the very best for all your future endeavours!" ISRO said addressing Mr Radhakrishnan.
Mr Radhakrishnan served as Director of NRSA (National Remote Sensing Agency) and Director of VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre).
After delivering five consecutive successful PSLV missions, including the PSLV-C11 that lofted Chandrayaan-1, India's unmanned mission to the Moon, and leading several crucial technology development at VSSC, Radhakrishnan took over the reins of Indian Space Programme in November 2009.
With the 12 successful PSLV missions, the successful GSLV with indigenous cryogenic stage, the Mars Orbiter Mission, the LVM-3 experimental flight with CARE module, the six INSAT/GSAT satellites, three navigation satellites and six Earth Observation satellites (including RISAT-1, the first microwave imaging satellite) Dr Radhakrishnan is leaving ISRO "at its most glorified pedestal ever", ISRO said.
During his brief stint from 2000-05 at the Ministry of Earth Science, Mr Radhakrishnan is credited for establishing the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and India's Tsunami Warning Centre.