Udupi Ramachandra Rao, the former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and an internationally renowned space scientist who quarterbacked the foundation of space satellite technology in India, departed at the age of 85, today morning, in Bengaluru because of age-related ailments. He was an internationally recognized personality, and the pioneer of space technology in India and also was the escort of India’s first satellite launch, Aryabhata, in 1975. While leaving his last breath, Mr. Rao was 85.

As officially confirmed Mr. Rao had been diagnosed with an age-related cardiovascular disease in the past and gave way to the sickness in the early hours of Monday, 24th July. According to ISRO Public Relations Director Deviprasad Karnik, “Mr. Rao left his last breath during the early hours of Monday, around 3 a.m.”

Mr. U.R. Rao was the former Chairman of ISRO. He was born in Admaru village in Udupi district and had completed his early education from the Christian High School in Udupi. Later his family shifted from Udupi to Ballari, where Mr. Rao completed his Bachelor of Science in Government Arts and Science College, Anantapur, Master degree in Science from Banaras Hindu University and Ph.D. from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmadabad. In 1985, he was recruited as the Chairman, Space Commission and Secretary of ISRO’s Department of Space and accelerated the improvement of rocket technology in India.  He served as ISRO’s chairperson for ten years, from 1984 to 1994.

Under his guidance, ISRO also launched the first Indian satellite, named as “Aryabhata” in 1975. And because of its advanced outlook and interest in accelerating India’s space technology, India experienced the successful launch of ASLV rocket in 1992. After retiring from ISRO, Mr. Rao appointed as the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmadabad and Nehru Planetarium at Bengaluru as well as chancellor of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), located in Thiruvananthapuram.

Due to his excellent contribution to Indian space technology and development, Mr. Rao was honored with Padma Bhushan award by the India Government in 1976 and Padma Vibhushan in 2017. During his lifetime, Mr. Rao has published more than 350 scientific and technical papers, detailing mysterious cosmic rays, space applications, advanced interplanetary physics, high energy, satellite, and rocket technology, and also has authored a number of books. He was also the first Indian space scientist to be introduced into the esteemed “Satellite Hall of Fame” in Washington DC, held on March 19, 2013, as well as to the “IAF Hall of Fame’, went on in Mexico’s Guadalajara.

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