Professor Udupi Ramachandra Rao, also referred to as India’s “Satellite Man” breathed his last owing to illness. He was a man of science who had dedicated his life in solving the problems of the society by using the space science and technology. He spent more than five decades to solve the societal problems.
The Indian Space Research Organisation feels the loss stronger than anyone else owing to the fact that he was a part of all the launches made by ISRO- ranging from India’s first satellite ‘Aryabhatta’ to the experimental flight of GSLV mk-III. His demise marks the end of an era.
UR Rao was not only a 85-year old globally renowned space scientist, but he also held various fundamental positions in the International realm including the key position of ISRO’s chairman in India. He had got training form Vikram Sarabhai, the father of Indian space programme. Rao had a never ending dedication to the field of science and had a vision which excelled the one seen by his mentors. Rao’s service to India remained until he breathed his last. He didn’t know how to stop working.
No hurdles could stop him or come in his way. He made a grand satellite program in country through contributions and facing challenges. He had even served as the Chairman of governing council of the physical research laboratory, Chancellor of the Indian Institute of science and technology, Thiruvananthapuram. He has more than ten international awards and various national awards to his credit.
He remained unfazed and determined through the launch of Aryabhatta. He remained undeterred even when the SLV series of launchers failed initially. He was determined even during the success of Ariane Passenger PayLoad Experiment and even the launch of the first flight of PSLV.
He is most remembered for the time he spent at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was awarded with ‘Hall of Fame’ award by IAF (International Astronautical Federation) in May 2016. This was a huge honour since he was the first Indian to receive such an honour.
He has more than 350 published scientific and technical papers to his credit, covering cosmic rays, high energy astronomy, interplanetary physics, rocket technology, space applications, satellite and many others. Over 25 Universities, including University of Bologna, has given him the D.Sc. (Hons, Causa) Degree.
He even received Padma Vibhusha award along with Padma Bhushan.