Former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Udupi Ramachandra Rao died on Monday at his residence in Bengaluru. He was suffering from age-related ailments. He was 85. Rao is survived by his wife, son and daughter.
Rao was born in Udupi, Karnataka. He received a Bachelor of Science from Madras University in 1951, his masters degree from Banaras Hindu University in 1953 and his PhD from Gujarat University in 1960. Read: Former ISRO Chairman U R Rao passes away at 85. Click here.
An internationally acclaimed space scientist, Rao headed ISRO for 10 years between 1984 and 1994. He has been involved in all ISRO missions till date, either directly or indirectly, including the first Indian satellite ‘Aryabhata’. Under his leadership, India successfully launched the ASLV rocket and the operational PSLV launch vehicle, capable of launching 2.0 ton class of satellites into polar orbit. He also initiated the geostationary launch vehicle GSLV and the development of cryogenic technology in 1991.
He was the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and the chancellor of the Indian Institute of Science and Technology at Thiruvananthapuram at the time of his death. He has previously worked as a faculty member at MIT and an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas, Dallas.
Rao had published over 350 scientific and technical papers on cosmic rays, interplanetary physics, high energy astronomy, space applications and satellite and rocket technology, apart from authoring many books. Rao is the recipient of D.Sc. (Hon. Causa) Degree from over 25 universities, including the University of Bologna, which is Europe’s oldest university.
He was awarded the Padma Bhushan — the third highest civilian award — by the Indian government in 1976 for his contribution to Indian space technology. This year, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award. On March 19, 2013, he was also the first Indian space scientist to be inducted into the “Satellite Hall of Fame” at Washington. He was also the first to be inducted into the “IAF Hall of Fame” at Guadalajara in Mexico.