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Udupi Ramachandra Rao (10 March 1932-24 July 2017) was a space scientist and chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation.He was also the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and Nehru Planetarium at Bengaluru and chancellor of the Indian Institute for Space Science and Technology (IIST) at Thiruvananthapuram.
Rao was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1976, and Padma Vibhushan in 2017. He was inducted into the Satellite Hall of Fame, Washington, on 19 March 2013 at a ceremony organised by the Society of Satellite Professionals International. With this he became the first Indian to be inducted. He was also to be inducted in International Astronautics Federation (IAF) as on 15 May 2016. He was also the first Indian again to achieve such a feat. UR Rao died on 24 July 2017.
U. R. Rao was born at Adamaruin the state of Karnataka. His parents were Lakshminarayana Acharya and Krishnaveni Amma. He had his primary education at Adamaru. He completed his secondary education from Christian High School, Udupi. He completed his B.Sc in Government Arts and Science College, Anantpur, M.Sc from Banaras Hindu University and Ph.D at Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad under the guidance of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai.
Rao started his career as a cosmic ray scientist, and worked under Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, which he continued at MIT. In association with the JPL Group, he was the first to establish the continuous nature of the solar wind and its effect on geomagnetism using Mariner 2 observations. Rao’s experiments on a number of Pioneer and Explorer spacecraft led to a complete understanding of the solar cosmic ray phenomena and the electromagnetic state of the interplanetary space. Convinced of the imperative need to use space technology for rapid development, Rao undertook the responsibility for the establishment of satellite technology in India in 1972.Under his guidance, beginning with the first Indian satellite “Aryabhata” in 1975, over 18 satellites including Bhaskara, APPLE, Rohini, INSAT-1 and INSAT-2 series of multipurpose satellites and the IRS-1A and IRS-1B remote sensing satellites were designed, fabricated and launched for providing communication, remote sensing and meteorological services.
He was the recipient of many national and international awards, such as :
D.Litt. (Hon. Causa) from Kannada University, Hampi
D.Sc (Hons. Causa) from the Universities of: