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        Far left: With Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Satish Dhawan; Left: Receiving the Padma Vibhushan by President Pranab Mukherjee; Below: With Rakesh Sharma and Ravish Malhotra
      Above: From left, Prof Rao with Robert Bukata and William C Bartley of the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies, University of Texas; Right: At his office
launch GSLV Mark III with the indig- enous cryogenic engine in 2014.
Even today, the launch vehicle com- munity remembers Prof Rao for his support and courage during the critical years of sanctions and self-reliance. By the time Prof Rao retired from ISRO in 1994, the satellites had operationalised 63 transponders.
Prof Rao believed in the ability of Indian scientists to master high technol- ogy and deliver world-class products. He always led from the front, bestowing confidence and encouragement to the other young scientists.
In 1982, Prof Rao led the Indian del- egation to the second UNISPACE con- ference in Vienna held by the United Na- tions Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. He played an important role in the conference by settling a major dispute on the question of the militarisa- tion of space. The US, the UK, Canada, Australia and Luxembourg were on one side and all other member nations on the other. Prof Rao diffused the situation through extensive negotiations. After the conference, India came to be looked
Prof Rao believed in the ability of Indian scientists to master high technology and deliver world-class products. He led from the front, bestowing confidence to the other young scientists
upon as a champion of the peaceful use of outer space.
Prof Rao tirelessly promoted the use of space technology for broadcasting, education, meteorology, remote sensing and disaster warning. He also published over 360 scientific and technical papers in various journals. He was conferred the Padma Bhushan — the third highest civilian honour — by the Government of India in 1976, and the Padma Vib- hushan — the second highest civilian honour — in 2017. He also became the first Indian space scientist to be inducted into the highly prestigious Satellite Hall of Fame, USA, on March 19, 2013.
Even after retirement, Prof Rao continued to remain actively involved in space research as an advisor and con- sultant, especially with the Aditya-L1 mission to study the Sun. He continued to be involved with missions like Chan- drayaan-2, Mars Rover Mission as well as the discussions on mission to Venus.
Prof Rao was particularly excited about the Aditya mission and he ensured that it went through a thorough revamp of its objectives including its orbital pa- rameters to make it more meaningful. Aditya will become the first mission from India to be placed in the Lagrang- ian Point, L1, one of the liberation points in orbital configuration,1.5 mil- lion km from the Earth, where a satellite when placed will have the same angular velocity as that of the earth with respect to Sun and hence, maintain the same position in relation to the sun as seen from Earth. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the realisation of his pet mis- sion. He passed away on July 24, 2017 in Bengaluru.
*The writer is Associate Editor, Science India
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