March 24, 2023
Udupi Ramachandra Rao

Prof. Udupi Ramachandra Rao (1984-1994) – ISRO

Name Udupi Ramachandra Rao
Born 10 March 1932

Adamaru, South Canara, Madras Presidency, British India

(present-day Udupi district, Karnataka, India)

Died 24 July 2017 (aged 85)

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Religion Hinduism
Awards Padma Bhushan (1976)

Padma Vibhushan (2017)

Scientific career Space science and Satellite Technology
Spouse(s) Yashoda Rao
Known for Indian Space Program
Institutions Indian Space Research Organization

Physical Research Laboratory

Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, Bengaluru


Early life Of Udupi Ramachandra Rao

Udupi Ramachandra Rao

Udupi Ramachandra Rao was born into a Madhwa Brahmin Hindu family at Adamaru in the state of Karnataka. His parents were Lakshminarayana Acharya and Krishnaveni Amma. He had his primary education at Akamaru. Udupi Ramachandra Rao completed his secondary education at Christian High School, Udupi. He completed his B.Sc. in Government Arts and Science College, Anantapur, M.Sc. from Banaras Hindu University, and Ph.D. at Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad under the guidance of Vikram Sarabhai.

Udupi Ramachandra Rao’s Education

After working as a faculty member at MIT and Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas where he carried out investigations as a prime experimenter on a number of Pioneer and Explorer spacecraft, Rao returned to India in 1966 as a professor at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.

  • Ph.D. – Gujarat University, 1960
  • M.Sc. – Banaras Hindu University, 1954
  • B.Sc. – Madras University, 1952[8]

As Chairman of ISRO

Udupi Ramachandra Rao Doodle

After taking charge as Chairman, Space Commission, and Secretary, Department of Space in 1985, Rao accelerated the development of rocket technology resulting in the successful launch of the ASLV rocket in 1992. Rao initiated the development of the geostationary launch vehicle GSLV and the development of cryogenic technology in 1991.  Udupi Ramachandra Rao was also responsible for the development of the operational PSLV launch vehicle, which successfully launched an 850 kg. satellite into a polar orbit in 1995. The launch of INSAT satellites gave a thrust to communications in India, during the 1980s and 1990s. The successful launch of INSAT provided telecommunication links to remote corners of India. During these decades fixed telephone (called a landline) expanded throughout the country due to the availability of satellite links at different places in the ground.


Prof. Udupi Ramachandra Rao was the recipient of many national and international awards, such as :

National Awards

  • 1975 Karnataka Rajyotsava Award
  • 1975 Hari Om Vikram Sarabhai Award
  • 1975 Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in the Space science & technology field
  • 1976 Padma Bhushan
  • 1980 National Design Award
  • 1980 Vasvik Research Award in the Electronic Sciences & Technology field
  • 1983 Karnataka Rajyotsava Award
  • 1987 PC Mahalnobis Medal
  • 1993 Om Prakash Bhasin Award in the Energy & Aerospace field
  • 1993 Meghnad Saha Medal
  • 1994 P.C. Chandra Puraskar Award
  • 1994 Electronics Man of the Year Award by ELCINA
  • 1995 Zaheer Hussain Memorial Award
  • 1995 Aryabhata Award
  • 1995 Jawaharhal Nehru Award
  • 1996 SK Mitra Birth Centenary Gold Medal
  • 1997 Yudhvir Foundation Award
  • 1997 Rabindranath Tagore Award of Visva Bharati University
  • 1999 Gujar Mal Modi Award for Science & Technology
  • 2001 Nadoja Award from Kannada University, Hampi
  • 2001 Lifetime Contribution Award in Engineering of INAE
  • 2002 Sir M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Award
  • 2003 Press Bureau of India Award
  • 2004 Star of India Award from Viswabharathy Foundation, Hyderabad
  • 2004 Special Award 2004, Karnataka Media Academy
  • 2005 Bharat Ratna Rajiv Gandhi Outstanding Leadership Award
  • 2007 Life Time Achievement Award of Indian Space Research Organisation
  • 2007 Distinguished Scientist Gold Medal of the Karnataka Science & Technology Academy.
  • 2007 Vishwamanava Award by Vishwamanava Samsthe
  • 2007 A.V. Rama Rao Technology Award
  • 2008 Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Award for 2007-2008 from ISCA
  • 2017 Padma Vibhushan

International Awards

  • 1973 Group Achievement Award by NASA, USA
  • 1975 Medal of Honour by Academy of Sciences, USSR
  • 1991 Yuri Gagarin Medal of USSR
  • 1992 Allan D Emil Award on International Cooperation
  • 1994 Frank J Malina Award (International Astronautical Federation)
  • 1996 Vikram Sarabhai Medal of COSPAR
  • 1997 Outstanding Book Award of the International Academy of Astronautics for the Book Space Technology for Sustainable Development
  • 2000 Eduard Dolezal Award of ISPRS
  • 2004 Space News magazine named him as one of the Top 10 International personalities who have made a substantial difference in civil, commerce and military space in the world since 1989
  • 2005 Theodore Von Karman Award which is the highest Award of the International Academy of Astronautics.
  • 2013 Inducted into Satellite Hall of Fame by Society of Satellite Professionals International’
  • 2016 Inducted into the Hall of Fame by International Astronautical Federation.

Books authored

  • U. R. Rao, K. Kasturirangan, K. R. Sridhara Murthi. and Surendra Pal (Editors), “Perspectives in Communications”, World Scientific (1987). 
  • U. R. Rao, “Space and Agenda 21 – Caring for Planet Earth”, Prism Books Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore (1995).
  • U. R. Rao, “Space Technology for Sustainable Development”, Tata McGraw-Hill Pub., New Delhi (1996)

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