R.I.P. U.R. Rao

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U.R. Rao, the man who led the design and construction of India’s first satellite in 1975, has passed away at 85.

After graduation from Madras University and post-graduation from Banaras Hindu University, Rao went to the US in the early 1960s to work in the faculty of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) at Cambridge in Maryland and as an Assistant Professor at University of Texas in Dallas.

On returning to India in 1966, Rao joined PRL in Ahmedabad as professor under the guidance of Vikram Sarabhai, architect of the Indian space science, and shifted to Bengaluru to work as a space scientist at ISRO’s satellite centre in 1972. “Under Rao’s guidance, the first Indian satellite ‘Aryabhata’ was built in 1975 to use space technology for the country’s socio-economic development. On its success, about 20 satellites were developed and launched for various space applications spanning communications, remote sensing and weather under his supervision,” an official said.

He subsequently became head of ISRO from 1984 to 1994, when they developed their first rocket, the ASLV, which became today’s PSLV, as well as began their development of the GSLV.


One comment

  • Edward

    Quite a bit was going on in India and because of India, back in the mid 1970s.

    India was working on a communications satellite so that they could get television images from remote towns to doctors in the cities in order to help diagnose, treat, and cure patients who could not reasonably be transported to a hospital. India helped to initiate a method of fairly allocating geostationary orbital (GEO) slots, because they were concerned that all the good slots would be taken up by the countries that were launching the most satellites and leave no slots for those countries that were beginning to build or buy GEO satellites.

    From U.R. Rao’s obituary, I suspect that he was instrumental in both of these important efforts.

    Today, the International Telecommunications Union assigns slots to proposed GEO satellites.

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