Happy birthday Rakesh Sharma: Born on January 13, 1949, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma is a former Indian Air Force pilot who flew aboard Soyuz T-11 on 3 April 1984 as part of the Soviet Interkosmos program.
He is the only Indian citizen to travel in space.
Rakesh Sharma turns 73 this year.
For the year 2021, on astronaut Rakesh Sharma’s birthday, a video clip of the famous conversation with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was being widely shared on Twitter.
Rakesh Sharma quoting poet Iqbal’s “Sare jahan se accha” from the Suyuz spacecraft was a proud moment for Indians. The astronaut spoke to Indira Gandhi from space during a joint television news conference, which also included officials in Moscow.
During the conversation, Indira Gandhi had asked Mr Sharma “Upar se Bharat kaisa dikhta hai aapko (How does India look like from space?).”
Birthday wishes to Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma. I wish him good health and a long life ahead.
Sharing one of India’s proudest moment when he became the first Indian to travel in space. pic.twitter.com/oO8q60AAyp
— T S Singhdeo (@TS_SinghDeo) January 13, 2021
Well to brief a little more about our superhero, Mr. Sharma made history by becoming the first Indian to travel to space in the year 1984. He was part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, which was launched on April 2, the same year.
Astronaut Rakesh Sharma spent seven days, 21 hours and 40 minutes in space as part of a joint programme between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Soviet Interkosmos space programme. He was accompanied on the mission by two Russian cosmonauts, commander Yury Malyshev and flight engineer Gennady Strekalov.
As the Indian space hero turns 73 years old today, let’s have a look at some of the interesting facts related to him.
- Rakesh Sharma had taken Indian food to space with the help of the Defense Food Research Lab situated in Mysore. They had packed suji halwa, aloo chole and veg pulao which Sharma shared with fellow astronauts.
- Rakesh Sharma was the first who practiced zero gravity yoga in order to deal with space sickness in 1984. His experiments were quite appreciated by The Rocosmos. At a conference in 2009, he suggested the next Indian cosmonauts to practice zero gravity yoga to cope up with space sickness.
- Rakesh Sharma escaped a fatal accident while he was flying a MiG-21 near Nasik. He had been a chief test pilot at HAL where he used to test several aircraft.
- Rakesh Sharma spent 7 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes in space. He also took pictures of North India from space.
- When Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India asked Rakesh Sharma how India looked from outer space, he promptly replied, Saare jahan se achha (better than the whole world). He also said that the most beautiful moments in space were that of sunrise and sunset.
- Rakesh Sharma is also the first Indian to have been conferred with the ‘Hero of Soviet Union’ award. He was also awarded Ashok Chakra alongwith his Russian co astronauts Yuri Malyshev and Genadi Strekalov.
- Contrary to popular stories, Rakesh Sharma had never really been on moon. He had revealed in an interview that he went to the Near-Earth Orbit which sadly is not a very familiar concept to Indians.
Sharma retired from the Indian Air Force as a Wing Commander. He joined the HAL in 1987 and was a chief test pilot in the Nashik Division of HAL.