Former ISRO Chairman and space scientist Prof Udupi Ramachandra Rao (popularly known as U R Rao), 84, became the first Indian to be inducted in the Hall of Fame of International Astronautical Federation (IAF). He was inducted during the closing ceremony of the 67th IAF Congress 2016 held at Guadalajara, Mexico for his outstanding contribution to the progress of astronautics.
Prof. Rao had served as Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from 1984 to 1994. Under his guidance, ISRO had designed over 20 satellites including India’s first satellite Aryabhatta. Under his leadership, India had initiated the development of the Geostationary Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and the development of cryogenic technology in 1991. He was also responsible for successful launch of The Indian National Satellite System or INSAT satellites during his stint at ISRO. He also had served as the first Chairman of Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the ISRO. Presently, he is the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and the chanceller of the indian institute of science and technology at Thiruvananthapuram.
Prof. Rao started his career as a cosmic ray scientist, under Dr.Vikram Sarabhai. Rao's experiments on a number of Pioneer and Explorer spacecraft led to a complete understanding of the solar cosmic ray phenomena and the electromagnetic state of the interplanetary space. He has published over 350 scientific and technical papers in various journals, covering cosmic rays, interplanetary physics, high energy astronomy, space applications and satellite and rocket technology. He had played pivotal role in promoting the use of space technology for broadcasting, meteorology, education, disaster warning and remote sensing. He is also the recipient of D.Sc. (Hon. Causa) Degree from over 25 Universities including University of Bologna, the oldest University in Europe. Prof. Rao also won the 31 National and 11 International awards in his life. Rao was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1976.
He was inducted into the Satellite Hall of Fame, Washington in March 2013 by the Society of Satellite Professionals International.
The IAF award is intended to reward personalities for their contributions to the progress of astronautics and the Federation. IAF Hall of Fame consists of a permanent gallery of these personalities, including biographical information, citation and a picture in a special part of the IAF web presence.