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Indian Space Scientist Udupi Ramachandra Rao Dead at 85 | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Space scientist Udupi Ramachandra Rao. (Vikram Sarabhai Space Center)

New Delhi, London – Spokesperson of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced that Udupi Ramachandra Rao, renowned space scientist and former chief of the Organization, passed away early July 24.

The scientist, who was fondly known as UR Rao, died at his house in Bengaluru, which is also home of the ISRO headquarters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi eulogized him on Twitter, saying: “Saddened by demise of renowned scientist, Professor UR Rao. His remarkable contribution to India’s space program will never be forgotten.”

Rao served as the chairman of ISRO for 10 years from 1984-1994. The Indian Space Research Organization launched its first satellite Aryabhatta during his chairmanship. According to the ISRO, Rao worked on accelerating the rocket’s technology, which led to the launch of spaceships later on.

Rao, who won the second biggest civil award the “Padma Vibhushan” earlier this year, worked as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Texas.

India had launched its biggest rocket, which will help ISRO in expanding to the space market and dispatching space missions in the future. Weighing 640 tons, the GSLV3 rocket was launched from the Sriharikota station in southern India, setting the satellite in its orbit 17 minutes after its launch.

Modi congratulated the scientists for the successful launch, tweeting: “This mission makes India closer to the next generation of launching spaceships and rockets. The proud nation!”

This rocket launch is very significant because it would pave the way for India to launch manned missions in the future. Until this date, the United States, Russia and China are the only countries who are able to launch such missions.

This development also reduces India’s reliance on other countries to launch heavy satellites as in the past, it needed to use French rockets to launch ships weighing 2.2 tons.