Professor Udupi Ramachandra Rao (aka U.R. Rao), the former head of the Indian Space Research Organisation, which he lead from 1984 to 1994, has passed away at the age of 85.
U.R. Rao, was a space physicist by training who specialised in cosmic ray research at MIT in USA, before later becoming the head of ISRO. He was the main driver behind two of its most successful programmes. He was the instigator of India’s indigenous ASLV launch vehicle programme which led to the highly successful PSLV rocket and later GSLV – although for a time that programme suffered from a late withdrawal of Russian cryogenic technology for its upper stage.
Rao was also the driver behind India’s communications satellite fleet named INSAT.
It was during his time as ISRO head that India was denied the originally promised Russian cryogenic technology for the GSLV’s upper third stage and it had to develop its own.
U.R.Rao, has won several honours and is even inducted into the “Satellite Hall of Fame” in 2013 and to the International Astronautical Federation’s “Hall of Fame” last year.
We give our salute to U.R. Rao and our condolences to his family and friends.
Post Script: We also give our tribute to film actor and playwright Sam Shepard who has passed away at the age of 73. He started in the movie The Right Stuff (1983) which recounted the early years of NASA’s manned space programme.