Udupi: Prof U.R. Rao's legacy shines as Chandrayaan 3 achieves impeccable moon landing

09:28 AM Aug 24, 2023 | Team Udayavani |

In a remarkable display of India’s growing prowess in foreign affairs, the nation’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has achieved a momentous milestone with the successful soft landing of Chandrayaan 3 at the Moon’s South Pole. This accomplishment has garnered worldwide attention, solidifying India’s reputation as a burgeoning force in space exploration.


At the heart of this achievement lies the visionary work of a trailblazing scientist hailing from Udupi, Prof U.R. Rao (Udupi Ramachandra Rao). His unwavering dedication and contributions have laid the very foundation upon which ISRO’s success story has been built.

Prof U.R. Rao’s legacy within ISRO is deeply profound. Serving as the Director of the Bangalore ISRO Satellite Center from 1972 to 1984, followed by his role as Chairman of ISRO and Secretary of the Department of Energy from 1984 to 1994, he played a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of space science.

It was in 1972 that Rao heeded the call of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, embracing the challenge of advancing satellite technology. In 1975, he propelled India onto the global stage with the launch of the Aryabhata satellite, a feat that marked India’s entrance into the realm of satellite production, previously dominated by foreign powers. Rao’s forward-looking vision paved the way for self-sufficiency in space technology.

Under his stewardship, a series of groundbreaking satellite projects took flight, including Bhaskara, Apple, Rohini, Insat 1, Insat 2, and state-of-the-art communication satellites like IRS1A and 1B. Prof Rao was also instrumental in the development of rocket technology, culminating in the successful launch of ASLV and PSLV rockets, thereby ushering in a connectivity revolution in India.


Rao’s multifaceted contributions encompassed fields such as communication, television broadcasting, education, multimedia, weather forecasting, and disaster management. The deployment of remote sensing satellites for purposes ranging from agriculture and forestry to fisheries and water resource management was a testament to his visionary leadership.

Born on March 10, 1932, in Adamar, Udupi, Prof U.R. Rao’s educational journey began in Udupi Board High School and Christian School, followed by studies in Madras and Banaras. His academic pursuits culminated in a PhD earned under the guidance of Vikram Sarabhai at the Ahmedabad Physical Research Laboratory. His relentless passion continued until his passing on July 24, 2017, in Bengaluru.

Prof U.R. Rao’s impact transcends boundaries, and his efforts have earned him numerous accolades. His legacy has not only elevated the global standing of ISRO but has also etched Udupi district onto the world map. As India takes bold strides towards lunar exploration and beyond, it’s clear that Prof U.R. Rao’s indelible contributions will continue to shape the future of space science and technology.


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