Born in Adamaru area of Karnataka's Udupi district, Rao was involved in all ISRO missions till date in one capacity or the other.
According to the ISRO website, under UR Rao's guidance, beginning with the first Indian satellite "Aryabhata" in 1975, over 18 satellites were designed and launched for providing communication, remote sensing and meteorological services.
Padma Vibhushan award victor Professor Rao died in the wee hours at his residence in Bengaluru.
Rao initially worked as a cosmic ray scientist under Sarabhai.More news: Mandela's widow to sue doctor over book on his health
More news: Kabul blast: At least, 10 wounded, causality toll may rise, says Official
More news: Chelsea winger to play no further part in pre-season tour
At that time, India was heavily dependent on Russian Federation for cryogenic technology. After Satish Dhawan, he served as the chairman of Isro for about 10 years between 1984-1994.
He was now serving as the chairman of the governing council of the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad and the chancellor of the Indian institute of science and technology in Thiruvananthapuram.
Rao has held several top positions over the years, including at foreign universities. Interestingly, Rao had then said, "I thought I will get this (Padma Vibhushan) posthumously".
During his tenure in ISRO, many successful PSLV missions were launched, but more importantly it was UR Rao who made ISRO start the GSLV vehicle. He was the chancellor of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology at Thiruvananthapuram. On March 19, 2013, he was also the first Indian space scientist to be inducted into the "Satellite Hall of Fame" at Washington.