Bengaluru: Google celebrated the 89th Birthday of Professor Udupi Ramachandra Rao, with a doodle on its home page featuring an animated image of the renowned Indian space scientist with a background of the Earth and shooting stars.

“Happy Birthday, Prof. Rao! Your stellar technological advancements continue to be felt across the galaxy,” reads the description on Google Doodle’s website.

Born in a remote village of Karnataka on this day in 1932, Rao began his career as a cosmic-ray physicist and protege of Dr Vikram Sarabhai, a scientist widely regarded as the father of India’s space programme, it said.

After completing his doctorate, Professor Rao brought his talents to the US, where he worked as a professor and conducted experiments on NASA’s ‘Pioneer’ and ‘Explorer’ space probes.

On his return to India in 1966, he initiated an extensive high energy astronomy programme at thePhysical Research Laboratory, India’s premier institution for space sciences, before spearheading his country’s satellite programme 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 Aryabhataone of over 20 satellites he developed that transformed much of rural India by advancing communication and meteorological services, it said.

From 1984 to 1994, Professor Rao continued to propel his nation’s space programme to stratospheric heights as Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation. 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 Mangalyaana satellite that orbits Mars today.

He passed away on July 24, 2017, in Bengaluru.


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