Two scientists from Kerala are likely to head two space research institutes in India. While VSSC director and Alappuzha native Dr S Somnath is being considered for the chairmanship of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Payyannur native P Kunhikrishnan is in the race for the chairmanship of the newly formed Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe).

The appointment will be made by a three-member central cabinet committee chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A decision will be made next month.

Dr K. Sivan was appointed as the Chairman of ISRO for three years in 2018. His term will expire on January 15, 2021. Though Sivan had retired in 2017, his service was initially extended for two years and then for one year. The proposal to extend it for one more year may not be accepted as it will create a new norm.

Moreover, S. Somnath was promoted to Level 17 in December 2019. At present, only Sivan and Somnath are in Level 17. Somnath will retire in July 2023. The plan is to extend the term by one year and make him chairman for three years, sources said.

K Sivan nominated P Kunhikrishnan as the chairman of IN-SPACe during the video conference with the Prime Minister's Office on Thursday.

IN-SPACe, which was founded in June, currently has no chairman. The post of Under-Secretary and International Co-operation Joint Secretary will be filled soon. The chairman will also be appointed in January.