Udupi Ramachandra Rao completed his school education from Udipi and Adamaru. He completed his graduation from Madras University and post graduation from BHU (Banaras Hindu University) in 1954. Thereafter, in 1960 he did his PhD from Gujarat University. After completion of his studies, he started his career as a professor at the University of Texas in the US and came back to India in 1966.
After returning, he became a professor at the famous PRL Physical Research Laboratory), Ahmedabad. Under the guidance of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, he became a cosmic ray scientist. As a scientist, he was the first one to initiate the uninterrupted nature of the solar wind and its consequences on geomagnetism. He observed this using Mariner 2. It was his study that contributed immensely to solar cosmic ray occurrence and the electromagnetic state of the interstellar space. He shouldered the responsibility of forming the satellite technology in the country in 1972. From “Aryabhatta” to next 18 satellites that India launched were under his guidance. APPLE, INSAT 1, INSAT 2, Rohini were the satellites among those.
He was made the chairman of Indian Space research Organisation in 1985. Immediately after taking this post, he speeded the development process and launched ASLV rocket in 1992. His noted contributions include expansion of cryogenic technology and PSLV vehicle launch among others.
For his contribution to the field of Science, he was conferred with Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhusan by the Government of India and to date is the only Indian who have been included in the Satellite Hall of Fame.