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UR Rao, Indian space pioneer and former Isro chairman, dies at 85

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-07-2017 PTI

Bengaluru: Eminent space scientist and former Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairman Udupi Ramachandra Rao passed away here in the wee hours on Monday due to age-related ailments. He was 85.

“Rao breathed his last during the early hours, around 3am on Monday,” Isro public relations director Deviprasad Karnik told PTI. He was suffering from age-related ailments and breathed his last at his residence in the city.

Rao is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter, Isro officials said. Born in Adamaru area of Karnataka’s Udupi district, Rao was involved in all Isro missions till date in one capacity or the other. He is credited for contributions to the development of space technology in India and its extensive application to communications and remote sensing of natural resources.

He was currently serving as the chairman of the governing council of the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad and the chancellor of the Indian institute of science and technology in Thiruvananthapuram.

Rao served as the chairman of Isro for 10 years from 1984-1994. After taking charge as chairman of the space commission and secretary, department of space in 1984, he accelerated the development of rocket technology, which led to the successful launch of ASLV rocket and the operational PSLV launch vehicle, which can launch 2.0 ton class of satellites into polar orbit, his profile on the space agency’s website reads.

He also initiated the development of the Geo Stationary Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and the development of cryogenic technology in 1991. Rao was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1976 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2017 for his contribution to Indian space technology.

He has published over 350 scientific and technical papers covering cosmic rays, interplanetary physics, high energy astronomy, space applications, satellite and rocket technology and authored many books.

Rao also became the first Indian space scientist to be inducted into the prestigious ‘Satellite Hall of Fame’ in Washington DC on 19 March 2013, and the ‘IAF Hall of Fame’ in Mexico’s Guadalajara.

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