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|Intercosmos Research Astronaut|
13 January 1949 |
Patiala, Patiala and East Punjab States Union, India
|Other occupation||Test Pilot|
|Rank||Wing Commander, Indian Air Force|
|Time in space||7d 21h 40m|
|Missions||Soyuz T-11 / Soyuz T-10|
|Awards|| Ashok Chakra
Hero of the Soviet Union
Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, AC, Hero of the Soviet Union, (born January 13, 1949) is a former Indian Air Force test pilot who flew aboard Soyuz T-11 as part of the Intercosmos program. Sharma was the first Indian to travel in space.
Early life 
The first Indian to fly into space, Rakesh Sharma was born on January 13, 1949 in Patiala, Punjab to Hindu Gaur parents, Sharma joined the Indian Air Force in 1970 as a pilot officer after joining the NDA as an IAF cadet in 1966. During the 1971 War, Sharma flew missions in his MiG aircraft with considerable success. 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. He spent eight days in space on board the Salyut 7 space station. He joined 2 other Soviet cosmonauts aboard the Soyuz T-11 spacecraft which blasted off on April 2, 1984.
Sharma joined the Indian Air Force and progressed rapidly through the ranks. 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. Launched along with two Soviet cosmonauts aboard Soyuz T-11 on the 3 April 1984, Sharma was 35-year-old. Rakesh, along with the Soviet Cosmonauts, spend 7 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes 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'. This line has been compared in its memorability with Neil Armstrong's famous line "One small step for a Man, but a giant leap for Mankind", but in fact both lines were premeditated and rehearsed.
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.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rakesh Sharma|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Soyuz T-10|