In a nation, that idolises heroes only from cinema and cricket, Squadron Rakesh Sharma Provided a change when he became the first Indian to venture into outer space.
Born On: January 13th, 1949
Born In: Patiala in India
Career: Test Pilot and Cosmonaut
Nationality : Indian
Awards : Ashok Chakra, Hero of the Soviet Union
- He flew in the Russian Spaceship Soyuz T-11. Rakesh Sharma was chosen out hundreds of aspirants to undergo training with the Russians as part of their space programme. He spent some time on the Russian Space Station, the Salyut-7 before successfully returning to the Earth.
- Born on 13th January 1949 in Patiala, Rakesh Sharma was a test pilot in the IAF. 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 Souyuz T-11. The take-off from Baikonur in Moscow on April 2, 1984 was a high point in Indo-Soviet relations.
- His work was mainly in the fields of biomedicine and remote sensing.
- Prime Minister 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.
- Rakesh Sharma was awarded the Ashoka Chakra, for the successful completion of the Space Mission. His comainions on the Soyuz T-11 Mission, Col Gennady Mikhailovish Strekalov, both Russions were also awarded the Ashoka Chakra. It was the first and only time that the Ashoka Chakra was awarded to foreigners.
- Rakesh Sharma later joined HAL as a Test Pilot, which involved testing the various aircraft being manufactured at Ojhar, near Nasik. He had a providential escape from a MIG-21 when he had to eject.
- He retired from the Indian Air Force as a Wing Commander. He has shown the world that Indians are fast catching up in space exploration.