6th Yudhvir Memorial Award

Late Prof. UR Rao

For his contribution to Space Technology by Late Shri Prabha Shankar Mishra, Hon’ble Chief Justice, High Court of Andhra Pradesh


Prof. Udipi Ramachandra, an internationally renowned space scientist, has been the chief architect of India’s space programme. Starting his research career as a cosmic ray scientist, under the late Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, he continued his work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and South West Centre for Advanced Studies at Dallas in United States. Prof. Rao’s work, as a prime experimenter on a series of Pioneer and Explorer spacecrafts, led to complete understanding of the solar as well as galactic cosmic ray variations, electromagnetic state of interplanetary space and the solar wind phenomena. On his return to India in 1966, Prof. Rao, as professor at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, initiated an extensive high energy astronomy programme.

Envisaging the need for the use of space technology for national development, he undertook the task for the development of satellite technology in India. Beginning with the first Indian satellite ‘Aryabhata’ in 1975, over 15 satellites both experimental such as ‘Bhaskara’, ‘APPLE’, ‘Rohini’ and state-of-art, operational ‘INSAT’ and ‘IRS’ series of satellites were designed, fabricated and launched under his guidance. As the head of the head of the Indian Space Programme during 1984-1994, Prof. Rao was responsible for the successful development of ASLV and PSLV rockets, capable of launching upto 1000kg satellites into polar orbit. He also initiated the development of GSLV launch vehicle for launching 2.5 ton class of satellites into geostationary transfer orbit and the development of cryogenic technology engines.

Extensive application of space technology carried out under his guidance initiated a total communication revolution in India resulting in the establishment of nation-wide telecom service, installation of unique locale-specific disaster warning system and spectacular expansion of TV services. Remote sensing satellites have become the backbone of the National Natural Resources Management System for the management of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, wasteland, water resources, drought and flood disasters on an operational basis. Prof. Rao initiated the highly innovative integrated sustainable development strategy at micro level using space imaging for providing food security on a sustainable basis.

As Vice President of the International Astronautical Federation, Prof. Rao has actively promoted the application of space technology in the developing countries.

He has published over 250 scientific papers and a number of books on space technology and its applications. He is the recipient of 14 honorary doctorate from universities and numerous prestigious fellowships and awards from all over the world. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1976.

Recently effective June 1997, he has been elected Chairman of the U.N Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Considering his extraordinary achievements and his outstanding contribution to the frontier area of science and technology in India, the Trustees of the Yudhvir Foundation feel great pride and pleasure in awarding him the Sixth Annual Foundation Award and wish him many more years of fruitful and eventful service to the cause of science, nation and humanity