Late. Prof U R Rao was an internationally renowned space scientist who had made original contributions to the development of space technology in India and its extensive application to communications and remote sensing of natural resources.
Prof. Rao was the Director of U R Rao Satellite Centre at Bangalore during 1972-1985 and Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation and Secretary, Department of Space during 1984-1994. He was also the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad, which is considered as the cradle of India's Space Program / Chairman, Karnataka Science & Technology Academy / Chairman, Advisory Committee for Space Science, ISRO.
Prof Rao started his career as a cosmic ray scientist, under the late Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, which work he continued at MIT during 1960-1963. 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.
After his return to India, Prof. Rao undertook the responsibility for the establishment of satellite technology in the country during 1972. The first Indian satellite 'Aryabhata' in 1975 and 20 satellites including Bhaskara, APPLE, Rohini, INSAT-1 and INSAT-2 series of multipurpose communication and meteorological satellites, IRS-1A, IRS-1B , IRS-1C and 1D remote sensing satellites were designed, fabricated, tested and launched.
As Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation and Secretary, Department of Space in 1984, he accelerated the development of rocket technology in India, resulting in the successful launch of ASLV rocket in 1992. He was also responsible for the development of the operational PSLV launch vehicle.He has tirelessly worked towards the utilisation of the vast benefits from space technology for the development of India.
Prof Rao has published over 300 scientific and technical papers in various national and international journals and has authored many books, notable amongst which are "Perspectives in Communications", "Space and Agenda 21 - Caring for the Planet Earth", "Space Technology for Sustainable Development" and "India's Rise as a Space Power".
Prof. Rao is an elected Fellow of many academies such as Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy, National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications Engineers, International Academy of Astronautics and Third World Academy of Sciences.
Prof. Rao, was the Vice President of International Astronautical Federation (IAF) during 1984 to 1992 . He was elected as the Chairman of United Nations - Committee On Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) during 1997-2000 and also Chairman of UNISPACE-III Conference held at Vienna during 2000. Prof. Rao was elected as the Chairman of the 30th International Antarctic Treaty Consultative Committee Meeting at Delhi in April 2007.
Prof. Rao is the recipient of many national awards such as, Karnataka State Award, Vikram Sarabhai Research Award, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Memorial Award, Aryabhata Award, Om Bhasin Award, Jawaharlal Nehru Award, Gujar Mal Modi Science Foundation Award, Life Time Contribution Award of INAE, of Indian National Academy of Engineering, Vishwa Bharathi Award, Life Time Achievement Award of Indian National Academy of Engineering and the first Life Time Achievement Award from the Indian Space Research Organisation, Distinguished Scientist Gold Medal of the Karnataka Science & Technology Academy in August 2007.
Prof. Rao has also received many international awards, notable among which are Frank J Malina Award for space education by the International Astronautical Federation, Von Karman Award of International Academy of Astronautics, Vikram Sarabhai Medal of COSPAR.The prestigious Space Magazine, Space News named Prof. U.R. Rao as one of the Top 10 International Space Personalities who have made a substantial difference in civil, commerce and military space in the world since 1989.
Prof Rao was a recipient of D.Sc (Hon. Causa) from more than twenty five Universities and the oldest University in Europe, University of Bologna (Italy).
Prof Rao was awarded 'Padma Bhushan' in 1976 and 'Padma Vibhushan' by the Government of India in 2017. Prof. U.R. 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.