During his tenure as chairman of ISRO, UR Rao accelerated the development of rocket technology.
Bengaluru, July 24: Former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman Udupi Ramachandra Rao, popularly known as UR Rao, breathed his last on Monday, leaving a large void. UR Rao, who served as the chairman of ISRO between 1984-1994, played an instrumental role in several of its projects, including the successful launch of India’s first satellite Aryabhata in 1975. Several other satellites like Bhaskara, APPLE, Rohini, INSAT-1 and INSAT-2 series were designed, fabricated and launched under his guidance.
Padma Vibhushan awardee UR Rao was born at Adamaru in Karnataka on March 10, 1932. After primary education at Adamaru, Rao completed his secondary education from Christian High School, Udupi. He completed his B.Sc in Government Arts and Science College, Anantpur and M.Sc from Banaras Hindu University. In 1960, Rao completed his Ph.D under the guidance of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, widely regarded as the father of India’s space programme.
UR Rao’s Early Career:
UR Rao, who started his career as a cosmic ray scientist, was the first to establish the continuous nature of the solar wind and its effect on geomagnetism using Mariner 2 observations. Rao worked as a Faculty Member at MIT and Assistant Professor at University of Texas at Dallas. In 1966, he returned to India and joined Physical Research Laboratory as a professor. He experimented on a number of Pioneer and Explorer spacecraft which resulted into a complete understanding of the solar cosmic ray phenomena and the electromagnetic state of the interplanetary space.
As ISRO Chairman:
During his tenure as chairman of ISRO, UR Rao accelerated the development of rocket technology. Under his leadership, ISRO succeeded in launching ASLV rocket in 1992 and a PSLV vehicle, which successfully launched an 850 kg. satellite into a polar orbit in 1995. He was responsible for the successful launch of INSAT satellites during his stint at ISRO. The successful launch of INSAT provided telecommunication links to remote corners of India and helped to expand fixed telephone (called as landline) in every corner of the country.
UR Rao was awarded ‘Padma Bhushan’ in 1976, which is the third highest Civilian Award and ‘Padma Vibhushan’ in 2017 which is the second highest Civilian Award. Professor Rao became the first Indian Space Scientist to be inducted into the highly Prestigious “Satellite Hall of Fame” at Washington DC, USA on March 19, 2013. Rao, the recipient of D.Sc (Hon. Causa) Degree from over 25 universities, published more than 350 scientific and technical papers. He became the first Indian to be given the ‘Hall of Fame’ award by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in March 2016. Rao was looking forward to India’s maiden launch to planet Venus in the coming years.