Rakesh Sharma – First Indian in Space


Rakesh Sharma was the first Indian to travel in Space. He was born on 13th January 1949 in Punjab, India. He flew to the Salyut 7 Space Station.

Rakesh Sharma Picture


Rakesh Sharma was born on 13th January 1949 in Punjab, India.

Rakesh completed his early education at St. Goerge’s Grammer School, Hyderabad, India.

Later In 1966, Rakesh joined as an Air Force Cadet in NDA.

In 1970, Rakesh was appointed as Pilot Officer in the Indian Air Force.

Born On: January 13th, 1949
Born In: Patiala in India
Career: Test Pilot and Cosmonaut

1949: Rakesh Sharma was born in Patalia into a Punjabi family.
1966: He joined the National Defense Academy as an Air Force trainee.
1970: Appointed as a test pilot by Indian Air Force.
1971: Rakesh Sharma flew the Mikoyan-Gurevich, a Russian jet.
1984: He was a part of a space mission owing to which he became the first man to travel to space.
2006: He took part in a space conference held by ISRO.

India sent its first astronaut, Rakesh Sharma, aboard Soviet spacecraft Salyut 7 in April 1984.

Early life

Rakesh Sharma was born on January 13, 1949 in Patiala, Punjab, India.

Rakesh studied at St. George’s Grammar School, Hyderabad, India.

In 1966, Rakesh Joined As An Air Force Cadet in NDA.
In 1970, Rakesh Was Appointed As Pilot Officer In The Indian Air Force.

Sharma joined the Indian Air Force in 1970 as a pilot officer after joining the NDA as an IAF cadet in 1966.

He joined the National Defense Academy (NDA) as an Air Force cadet in July 1966.

In 1970 he was commissioned into the Indian Air Force to become a pilot.

Sharma joined the Indian Air Force and progressed rapidly through the ranks.

In the 1971 War, Sharma flew missions is MiG aircraft with considerable success.

A few years later he retired from the Indian Army as a Wing Commander to become a part of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as a test pilot. He was posted in the Nashik Division. He then shifted to National Flight Test Center (NFTC) in Bangalore and began to work on Light Combat Aircraft program, along with a few others.


In 1970, after joining the Indian Air Force as a test pilot, his passion for flying opened up several opportunities such as being a part of war operations against Pakistan. He flew various Mikoyan-Gurevich aircrafts starting from 1971. Rakesh swiftly progressed through many levels and in 1984 he was appointed as the Squadron Leader and pilot of the Indian Air Force.

He was a squadron leader with the Indian Air Force, when he flew into space in 1984 as part of a joint programme between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Soviet Intercosmos space program.

Sharma, then a Squadron Leader and pilot with the Indian Air Force embarked on a historic mission in 1984 as part of a joint space program between the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Soviet Intercosmos space program, and spent eight days in space aboard the Salyut 7 space station.

Space Mission

He spent eight days in space on board the Salyut 7 space station (Soviet/Russian). He joined two other Soviet cosmonauts aboard the Soyuz T-11 spacecraft which blasted off on April 2, 1984.

Rakesh Sharma was chosen out of hundreds of applicants to undergo training with the Russians as part of their space programme.

He was selected on 20th September 1982 to become a cosmonaut and was trained for 18 months for the eight-day trip. In 1984 he became the first Indian citizen to go into space when he flew aboard the Russian rocket Soyuz T-11. The take-off from Baikonur in Moscow on April 2, 1984 was a high point in Indo-Soviet relations. The Soyuz IT – 11 docked and transferred the three-member Soviet-Indian international crew which also included the Ship’s Commander Y.V. Malyshev and Flight Engineer G.M. Strekalov (USSR) to the SALYUT-7 Orbital Station. The crew spent seven days aboard the Salyut Space Station during which they conducted scientific and technical studies, which included 43 experimental sessions.

The one thing that cosmonauts are trained the most is to cope with is zero gravity. For example, Sharma, who recently gave a lecture in Bangalore on the kind of training that is given to astronauts, recalled that they were all made to sleep with their heads lower than their feet. Sharma says that six months before the launch, he dropped the fitness regime that the other cosmonauts were following and did intensive yoga. This was to assess whether yoga helps people cope better with the lack of gravity. His work was mainly in the flelds of biomedicine and remote sensing.

He was launched with 2 cosmonauts _________________ along with two Soviet cosmonauts aboard Soyuz T-11 on the 3 April 1984. Sharma was 35-year-old. at the time. Rakesh along with the Soviet Cosmonauts spend 7 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes (Appx. Eight days) in space and board the Salyut 7 space station, a low earth orbit space station, conducting an earth observation programme concentrating on India. He also did life sciences and materials processing experiments, including silicium fusing tests. He is also reported to have experimented with practicing Yoga to deal with the effects of prolonged orbital spaceflight.

While Rakesh was in space, he was asked by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on a famous conversation, who asked him how does India look from space, Rakesh replied “Saare Jahan se Achcha Hindustan Hamara” meaning ‘Our land of Hindustan, is the Best in the world’.

Rakesh Sharma immortalised himself in Indian History and made his way into many Indians hearts by his answer to the then PM Indira Gandhiji’s question on how India looked from outer space. He replied “Saare Jahan Se Achha” (The Best in the World). That was also a proud moment for millions of Indian TV viewers who watched India become the 14th nation to send a man to outer space.

He was conferred with the honour of Hero of Soviet Union upon his return from space. The Government of India conferred its highest gallantry award (during peace time), the Ashoka Chakra on him and the other two Soviet members of his mission.

He retired with the rank of Wing Commander. He joined the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in 1987 and served as Chief Test Pilot in the HAL Nashik Division until 1992, before moving on to Bangalore to work as the Chief Test Pilot of HAL. He retired from test flying in 2001.

In 2006, Sharma took part in a conference involving a gathering of the best scientists of ISRO, who were responsible for one of India’s space missions. Currently, he has retired from his services and is now the chairperson for the Automated Workflow.

Did you know?

India in Space: has information, facts on Indian space programme.

* India’s space agency may launch its first indian astronaut in the next few years.

* Astronaut Kalpana Chawla was killed along with six others in the Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster in February 2003.


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