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Rakesh Sharma (born January 13, 1949 in Patialamarker, Punjabmarker, Indiamarker) was a Squadron Leader in the Indian Air Force, was the first Indian and 138th person to travel in space. He retired from the Air force as Wing Commander.

Early life and background

Rakesh Sharma was born in Patialamarker, Punjabmarker to Tripta and Devendranath Sharma. He underwent schooling at Hyderabad. He graduated from Nizam College in Hyderabad.


Rakesh Sharma joined the Indian Air Force and progressed rapidly through the ranks. Rakesh Sharma, then squadron leader and pilot with the Indian Air Force embarked on the 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 other Sovietmarker cosmonauts aboard Soyuz T-11 on the 2 April 1984, was 35-year-old Rakesh Sharma. During the flight, Squadron Leader Sharma conducted multi-spectral photography of northern India in anticipation of the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the Himalayasmarker. In a famous conversation, he was asked by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi how India looked from the space and he replied, Saare Jahan Se Achcha, (better than the whole world).

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 Russian members of his mission.

Insignia of Indo Soviet Mission

Squadron Leader Sharma and his backup, Wing Commander Ravish Malhotra, also prepared an elaborate series of zero-gravity Yoga exercises which the former had practised aboard the Salyut 7. Retired with the rank of Wing Commander, Rakesh Sharma joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as a test pilot. He was based at the National Flight Test Center (NFTC) in Bangaloremarker and worked on the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft program.

Rakesh Sharma has now retired from active employment and is currently the Chairman of The Board for Automated Workflow Pvt Ltd. The Nehru Planetarium in New Delhimarker displays the original Soyuz T-10 capsule which, along with his space suit and mission journal. His conversation with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi can be heard there as well.

In November 2006 he took part in India's top scientists gathering organized by ISRO which gave the green light to an Indian manned space mission.

Personal life

Rakesh Sharma is married to Madhu and they have a son Kapil, an aspiring director and a daughter Krittika, a multimedia artist.


  4. Automated Workflow Management
  5. Time Is Right To Put An Indian In Space

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