Rakesh Sharma: First and Only Indian Citizen to go to Space

Rakesh Shama

Rakesh Sharma was a former Indian Air Force Pilot. He consisted of the rank of a Wing Commander and was under the position of a Test Pilot in The Indian Air Force who flew aboard Soyuz T-11, launched on 2nd April 1984 as a part of Intercosmos program which was a program connected throughout and for the world’s interest and action.

After getting to read about the Biography of Rakesh Sharma, we would be able to recognize and understand that he was the first Indian citizen to go to space to date. Moreover, he was the only Indian citizen to travel to space to date. Yet after numerous astronauts and space crafts launched to space, none of them indeed belonged to the Indian origin.

Early Life Of Rakesh Sharma

Rakesh Sharma was born on 13th January 1949 in Patiala, Punjab, India. He attended St. Georges Grammar School located in Hyderabad. He did graduation from Nizam College, Hyderabad. He joined the Indian Air Force as a cadet in 1966 at the age of 18.

Afterward, he joined the National Defence Academy as an air force plebe in July 1966. He joined the Indian Air Force as a pilot in 1970. He married his wife Madhu with whom he had a son named Kapil and a daughter named Kritika. His son later became a film director and daughter a media artist.

Career of Rakesh Sharma

Rakesh Sharma was an alumnus of the 35th National Defence Academy. He initially started as a Test Pilot in the Indian Air Force in 1970. There he flew numerous aircraft like Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) aircraft starting from 1971.

Sharma grew through several levels. In 1984, he switched as a squadron leader and Pilot in the Indian Air Force. He was selected on 20th September 1982 to become a cosmonaut and go to the space as a part of a joint program between the Indian Air Force and the Soviet Intercosmos Space program.

In 1984, he became the first Indian citizen to go to space when he flew on with the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 which was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic on April 2, 1984. The Soyuz T-11 transferred the three-member Soviet-Indian international crew members which also included the ship’s commander, Yury Malyshev, and flight engineer, Gennadi Strekalov, to the Salyut 7 Orbital Station.

He spent 7 days, 21 hours, and 40 minutes on space with the Salyut 7 during which his team performed scientific as well as technical observations which included forty-three experimental sessions. His work was mainly in the fields of bio-medicinal and remote sensing. The crew held a joint television news conference with officials in Moscow and the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Proud Moment For India

When Indira Gandhi asked Rakesh Sharma about how India looks from outer space, he replied, “Sare Jahan Se Accha” (the best in the world). The same is the title of a patriotic poem written by Iqbal in the period of India under British colonial rule, that continues to be popular today. Internationally, India ranked as the 14th nation to send a person to the outer space.

He retired with the rank of a wing commander. Afterward in 1987, he joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) where he served as the Chief Test Pilot under the Nashik Division till 1992; then he moved to Bangalore to work as the Chief Test Pilot of HAL. Sharma retired from flying in 2001.

Also Read :

Chandrayaan 1: Mission Mangal

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – Iron Man Of India


Military Awards Achieved

Rakesh Sharma was honored as the Hero of the Soviet Union upon his return from space. India offered its highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra, on him and the other two Soviet members of his mission, Malyshev, and Strekalov.

He earned Awards like Sangram Medal, Sainya Seva Medal, Videsh Seva Service Medal, 25th Anniversary of Independence Medal, and 9 years Long Service Medal. He also got a reference as a Pashchimi Star.

16 thoughts on “Rakesh Sharma: First and Only Indian Citizen to go to Space

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