13 January 1949 |
Patiala, Patiala and East Punjab States Union, India
|Other occupation||Test Pilot|
|Rank||Wing Commander, Indian Air Force|
|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 13 January 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.
Rakesh Sharma was born on 13 January 1949 in Patiala, Punjab to Hindu Gaur parents. He studied at St. George's Grammar School and later graduated from Nizam College, Osmania University in Hyderabad. Sharma joined the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 1970 as a pilot officer after joining the National Defence Academy as an IAF cadet in 1966. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, he flew missions in his MiG aircraft with considerable success.
He was a test pilot in the IAF. He was selected on 20 September 1982 to become a cosmonaut and go into space as part of a joint programme between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Soviet Interkosmos space program.
In 1984 he became the first citizen of India to go into space when he flew aboard the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic on 2 April 1984. The Soyuz T-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. He spent 7 days 21 hours and 40 minutes aboard the Salyut 7 during which his team conducted scientific and technical studies which included 43 experimental sessions. His work was mainly in the fields of bio-medicine and remote sensing.
The crew held a joint television news conference with officials in Moscow and then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Saare Jahan Se Achcha (the best in the world), said Sharma when Indira Gandhi asked him how India looked from outer space. India became the 14th nation to send a man to outer space.
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 was also associated with the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. He lives at Coonoor with his wife Madhu Sharma.
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, Malyshev and Strekalov.
- "Cosmonaut Biography: Rakesh Sharma". Spacefacts.de. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- "Rakesh Sharma". Mapsofindia.com. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- "Nizam College fete from tomorrow". The Hindu. 19 February 2008. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- Srinivasan, Pankaja (2010-04-04). "The down to earth Rakesh Sharma". The Hindu. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
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