AN 85-year-young professor bowed out from our midst and we have to accept that. During all these years, Prof U R Rao continuously worked, worked and worked.I joined ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) in 1978 with Prof Rao as director of the centre. It was in a new section called mission planning and analysis section. Rao took care of each one of us and encouraged us to try new things. He took a serious note of our activities and we all felt that we were doing something worthwhile.
He introduced me to the then ISRO chairman Prof Satish Dhawan during 3-axes stabilisation day of Aryabhata. I cannot forget those days. He showed great interest in all my activities, including my stay at German Space Operations Centre. He always wanted perfection, which motivated us to deliver our best. When I was the director of ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Centre (ISTRAC), he made sure that he encouraged me to go all out and develop technologies for network improvement, which included building a state-of-the-art worldwide network.
He was interested in our indigenous deep space network antenna, Indian Space Science Data Centre and the new campus at Bylalu village, near Bengaluru. Working under him, we never felt that we were being monitored by anybody. We were given a free hand. Besides being a great learner, he was also an excellent teacher. He closely followed the developments of Mars Orbiter Mission and was part of the mission all through. We worked hard to meet the deadlines of various schedules.
The whole experience was memorable as Prof Rao was a part of it. He also ensured that we stick to the schedule.Professor Rao was always a friendly, no-nonsense and humane person. We have learnt a lot from him and we should impart the wisdom we received from him to our juniors. Hats off to him.
(The writer is former director, ISRO Satellite Centre)