Page 29 - April 2021
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        PROFILE OF THE MONTH: PROF U R RAO (MARCH 10, 1932 - JULY 24, 2017)
Who Put
India Firmly
On Rarefied
Space Map
Common man will remember Prof U R Rao as the man behind first communication revolution in the country
n Sonam Singh Subhedar
Around 58 years ago, on Novem- ber 21, 1963, the first-ever In- dian rocket was launched from Thumba in Thiruvananthapuram after the establishment of the Indian Na- tional Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) the previous year under the guidance of Vikram Sarabhai, the father of Indian space programme. This rocket was built in a shed, transported on a bicycle and launched from a church in the fishing village of Thumba.
With this launch, India started its enduring journey in the global space-
1954, he registered as a doctoral student under Vikram Sarabhai and received his PhD from Gujarat University in 1960. Before joining INCOSPAR, Prof Rao worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a faculty mem- ber and Assistant Professor at the Uni- versity of Texas, Dallas. He returned to India in 1966 as a Professor at the Physi- cal Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.
Prof Rao worked with Sarabhai on many projects since the early days of the Indian space programme. Sarab- hai, Prof Rao’s former doctoral advisor and boss at ISRO, tasked him with the building and launch of Aryabhata. His determination to achieve the seemingly impossible task of building the coun- try’s first unmanned earth satellite from scratch without any basic infrastructure in place, and with a young team, was incredible. Aryabhata was assembled at Peenya, Bangalore, and was launched
   age. But, this expedition wasn’t easy and it took another 12 years for the country to launch its first satellite, Aryabhata, in 1975. However, the competitors were way ahead of us, with the US sending its astronauts to the Moon. But the coun- try’s fledgling space programme got a boost when INCOSPAR turned into ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisa- tion) in 1969 and was successively led by stalwarts. Among the legendary leaders of India’s space programme is the name of Prof Udupi Ramachandra Rao, who in his 10-year-tenure as ISRO chairman (1984-1994), gave an enduring push to the creation of country’s space and sat- ellite capabilities and their application for the nation’s development, earning the epithet of ‘Satellite Man of India’.
Born on March 10, 1932, in Ad- amaru village in Udupi, Karnataka, Prof Rao did his masters in physics from Banaras Hindu University in 1953. In
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