CNM Science Reporter
Prof. Udupi Ramachandra Rao’s 89th Birthday
Today’s Doodle celebrates the 89th birthday of renowned Indian professor and scientist Udupi Ramachandra Rao, remembered by many as “India’s Satellite Man.”
Born in a remote village of Karnataka on this day in 1932, Prof. Rao began his career as a cosmic-ray physicist and protégé of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, a scientist widely regarded as the father of India’s space program. After completing his doctorate, Prof. Rao brought his talents to the U.S., where he worked as a professor and conducted experiments on NASA’s Pioneer and Explorer space probes.
On his return to India in 1966, Prof. Rao initiated an extensive high energy astronomy program at the Physical Research Laboratory, India’s premier institution for space sciences, before spearheading his country’s satellite program in 1972. Motivated by the practical applications of aerospace technology to solve societal problems such as poverty and food shortages, Prof. Rao supervised the 1975 launch of India’s first satellite—“Aryabhata”—one of over 20 satellites he developed that transformed much of rural India by advancing communication and meteorological services.
From 1984 to 1994, Prof. Rao continued to propel his nation’s space program to stratospheric heights as chairman of India’s Space Research Organization. Here, he developed rocket technology such as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which has launched over 250 satellites. Prof. Rao became the first Indian inducted into the Satellite Hall of Fame in 2013, the same year that PSLV launched India’s first interplanetary mission—“Mangalyaan”—a satellite that orbits Mars today.
Happy Birthday, Prof. Rao! Your stellar technological advancements continue to be felt across the galaxy.