Prof. Udupi Ramachandra Rao (1984-1994)

Prof U R Rao, was an internationally renowned space scientist who made original contributions to the development of space technology in India and its extensive application to communications and remote sensing of natural resources.

He was the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and the Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space science and Technology at Thiruvananthapuram. After working as a Faculty Member at MIT and Assistant Professor at University of Texas at Dallas where he carried out investigations as a prime experimenter on a number of Pioneer and Explorer spacecrafts, Prof. Rao returned to India in 1966 as Professor at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. 

Convinced of the imperative need to use space technology for rapid development, Prof. Rao undertook the responsibility for the establishment of satellite technology in India in 1972. Under his guidance, beginning with the first Indian satellite 'Aryabhata' in 1975, over 18 satellites were designed and launched for providing communication, remote sensing and meteorological services.

After taking charge as Chairman, Space Commission and Secretary, Department of Space in 1984, Prof. Rao accelerated the development of rocket technology, resulting in the successful launch of ASLV rocket and the operational PSLV launch vehicle, which can launch 2.0 ton class of satellites into polar orbit. Prof. Rao initiated the development of the geostationary launch vehicle GSLV and the development of cryogenic technology in 1991.

Prof Rao had published over 350 scientific and technical papers covering cosmic rays, interplanetary physics, high energy astronomy, space applications and satellite and rocket technology and authored many books. He was also the recipient of D.Sc. (Hon. Causa) Degree from over 25 Universities including University of Bologna, the oldest University in Europe.

Prof Rao was awarded 'Padma Bhushan' by the Government of India in 1976, which is the third highest Civilian Award and ‘Padma Vibhushan’ in 2017 which is the second highest Civilian Award. Prof. U.R. Rao became the first Indian Space Scientist to be inducted into the highly Prestigious “Satellite Hall of Fame” at Washington DC, USA on March 19, 2013. Prof. U.R. Rao became the first Indian Space Scientist to be inducted into the highly Prestigious “IAF Hall of Fame” at Guadalajara, Mexico.


Bachelor of Sciences from Madras University, India, 1951, 
MS from Banaras Hindu University, India 1953, 
Ph.D. from Gujarat University, India1960,

Date of birth

10 March 1932 Adamaru, Udupi, India

National Recognition:

Padma Bhushan (1976).
Padma Vibhushan (2017).


D. Litt. (Hon. Causa) from Kannada University, Hampi
D.Sc (Hons. Causa) from the Universities of:
1976 Mysore ,1976 Rahuri, 1981 Calcutta, 1984 Mangalore
1992 Banaras, 1992 Udaipur, 1993 Tirupati (SV), 1994 Hyderabad (JN)
1994 Madras (Anna University), 1994 Roorkee University
1995 Punjabi University, Patiala, 1997 Shri Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur, 1999 Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad
2001 D.Litt. (Hons. Causa) from Kannada University, Hampi
2002 Ch. Charan Singh University, Meerut
2005 UP Technical University, Lucknow
2006 Viswesvaraiah Technical University, Belgaum
2007 Indian Institute of Technology - Delhi
2010 Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune
2012 National Institute of Technology, Agarthala
2013 Bangalore University
2013 Indian Institute of Technology - Bhubaneswar
2014 Vijayanagara Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Bellary
1992 University of Bologna (Italy)


Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences
Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy
Fellow of National Science Academy
Fellow of Third World Academy of Sciences
Fellow of the International Academy of Astronautics
Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering
Fellow of the Astronautical Society of India
Hon. Fellow of the Aeronautical Society
Distinguished Fellow Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers
Hon. Fellow of Indian National Cartographic Association
Fellow of Broadcasting and Engineering Society of India
Hon. Fellow Aero Medical Society of India
Distinguished Fellow of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad
Fellow of World Academy of Arts & Sciences, USA.

Positions held

1988 - 2017 Chairman, PRL Council, ISRO-DOS
2005 - Chairman, Karnataka Science & Technology Academy
2007 - Additional Director, Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore
2007 President, Centre for Space Physics, Kolkata
2006 - 2011 Chancellor, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow
2006 - 2010 Member, Central Board of Directors, Reserve Bank of India.
2007 - Chairman, Governing Council of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune
1997 - Co-Chairman, Governing Council of National Center for Antarctic & Ocean Research, Goa
1992 - Chairman, Bangalore Association for Science Education
1984 - 1994 Chairman, Space Commission/Secretary, Department of Space, Government of India & Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bangalore
1981 - 2001 Member, Space Commission, Government of India
2001 - 2002 Chairman, Prasar Bharati Board
1997 - 2001 Member, Prasar Bharati Board
1998 - 2001 Member, National Security Advisory Board
1997 - 2000 Chairman, United Nations - Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS)
1975 - 1984 Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore
1994 - 1999 Dr. Vikram Sarabhai Distinguished Professor of the Department of Space
1972 - 1975 Project Director, Indian Scientific Satellite Project, Bangalore
1969 - 1972 Professor, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad
1966 - 1969 Associate Professor, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad
1963 - 1966 Asst. Professor at S.W. Centre for Advanced Research, Dallas, Texas
1961 - 1963 Post Doctoral Fellow MIT, USA

Professional Activities in International Arena

1986-1992 Vice President, International Astronautical Federation

1988 to date President, Committee for Liaison with Developing Nations (CLODIN) of IAF

1997-2000 Chairman, UN-COPUOS (United Nations - Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space)

1999 President, UNISPACE-III Conference

2007 Chairman, 30th International Antarctic Treaty Consultative Committee Meeting

Organised Special Plenary Current Event Sessions as a part of International Astronautical Federation Congress

1987 Use of Space Technology for the benefit of Human Kind, at Brighton (IAF)

1988 Space and Drought Management at Bangalore, India (IAF)

1989 Space and Flood Management at Malaga, Spain (IAF)

1990 Space and Forest Management at Dresden, Germany (IAF)

1991 Space and Agriculture Management at Montreal, Canada (IAF)

1992 Space and Developing Countries at Washington, USA (IAF)

1993 Space and Environment at Graz, Austria (IAF)

1994 Space and Rural Development at Jerusalem, Israel (IAF)

1995 Space for Education, Health Care and Environmental Monitoring at Oslo, Norway (IAF)

1996 Population Dynamics and Management of Urban Environment at Beijing, China (IAF)

1997 Space and Industrial Partnership for Rapid Development, Turin, Italy (IAF)

1998 Space in Transitioning Economic Scenario, Melbourne, Australia (IAF)

1999 Space Technology for Sustainable Economic Growth, Amsterdam, Netherlands (IAF)

2000 Space in the Next Millennium - Towards an Equitable Village at Rio de Jeneiro, Brazil (IAF)

2001 Space & Information Technology - From Digital Divide to Digital Bridge at Toulouse, France (IAF)

2002 Director - Summer Design Project on "Space for Enhancing Human Health" for the International Space University at Pomona, California (ISU)

2002 Space Solutions for Global Problems: Building Partnership with All Stakeholders in Human Security and Development at Houstan, USA (IAF)

2003 Space for Enhancement of Carrying Capacity at Bremen, Germany (IAF)

2004 National Disaster Management on a Global Scale" at Vancouver, Canada (IAF)

2005 Space Education and Capacity Building for Sustainable Development at Fukuoka, Japan (IAF)

2006 Use of Space Technology for Water Resource Management at Valencia, Spain (IAF)

2007 Space Technology for Poverty Alleviation at Hyderabad, India (IAF)

President of UNISPACE III Conference, Vienna in 1979

Led Indian Delegation in COPUOS and S&T Sub Committee of COPUOS from 1980 to 1994, UNISPACE-II in 1982 and President UNISPACE-III in 2000.

Chairman of the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (1996-1999)

Published over 360 Scientific and Technical papers in various Journals.

Author of three recent Books

"Perspectives in Communications" (1987), World Scientific Pub. Co. Pvt.Ltd.

"Space and Agenda 21 - Caring for Planet Earth" (1995) Prism Books Pvt Ltd (Bangalore).

"Space Technology for Sustainable Development" (1996) - Tata McCraw Hill Pub., New Delhi.


  • 1976 Padma Bhushan
  • 2017 Padma Vibhushan
  • 1973 Group Achievement Award by NASA, USA
  • 1975 Medal of Honour by Academy of Sciences, USSR
  • 1975 Karnataka Rajyotsava Award
  • 1975 Hari Om Vikram Sarabhai Award
  • 1975 Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award
  • 1980 National Design Award
  • 1980 Vasvik Research Award
  • 1983 Karnataka Rajyotsava Award
  • 1987 PC Mahalnobis Medal
  • 1993 Meghnad Saha Medal
  • 1994 P.C. Chandra Puraskar Award
  • 1994 Electronics Man of the Year Award
  • 1995 Om Bhasin Award
  • 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 Viswa Bharati University
  • 1999 Gujar Mal Modi Science Foundation Award
  • 2001 Nadoja Award from Kannada University, Hampi
  • 2001 Life Time Contribution Award in Engineering of INAE
  • 2002 Sir M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Award
  • 2003 Press Bureau of India Award
  • 2004 Star of India Award from Vishwabharathy Foundation, Hyderabad
  • 2004 Special Award 2004, Karnataka Media Academy
  • 2007 Life Time Achievement Award of Indian Space Research Organisation
  • 2007 Distinguished Scientist Gold Medal of the Karnataka Science & Technology Academy.
  • 2007 Vishwamanava Award
  • 2008 Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Award for 2007-2008 from ISCA
  • 2008 A.V. Rama Rao Technology Award
  • 2009 Hari Om Ashram Prerit Senior Scientist Award-2008
  • 2010 ISCA General President Gold Medal Award
  • 2011 Sivananda Eminent Citizen Award

International Awards

  • 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 The prestigious Space Magazine, Space News has named Prof. U.R. Rao as one of the Top 10 International Space 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 Prof. U.R. Rao became the first Indian Space Scientist to be inducted into the highly Prestigious “Satellite Hall of Fame” at Washington DC, USA
  • 2016 Prof. U.R. Rao became the first Indian Space Scientist to be inducted into the highly Prestigious “IAF Hall of Fame” at Guadalajara, Mexico