Rakesh Sharma is a former Indian Air Force Pilot and cosmonaut, who became the first Indian citizen to travel into Space.
Rakesh Sharma was born on 13 January 1949 in the Patiala city of Punjab, India. He attended St. Ann’s High School, Secunderabad and later joined St. Georges Grammar School, Hyderabad. He graduated from Nizam College, Hyderabad and was admitted to National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, Pune. His Zodiac/Sun sign is Capricorn.
Rakesh was born in a Gaur Brahmin Family to Devenddranath Sharma and Tripata Sharma. He got married to Madhu, an Interior Designer.
Rakesh Sharma joined as a test pilot in the Indian Air Force in 1970. He progressed through many levels and was appointed as the Squadron Leader and Pilot in the Indian Air Force in 1984.
He joined The Indian Space Research Organisation and the Soviet Intercosmos space program, after being selected as a Cosmonaut on 20 September 1982. He flew into space towards Salyut 7 Orbital Station, in Soyuz T-11 along with ship’s commander, Yury Malyshev, and flight engineer, Gennadi Strekalov.
Rakesh became the first Indian citizen to travel into space, spending 7 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes. He retired with the rank of a wing commander. He joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in 1987 and served as the chief test pilot in the HAL Nashik Division until 1992, before moving to Bangalore to work as the chief test pilot of HAL. He retired from flying in 2001.
He was just 18 when he joined the Indian Air Force as a Cadet in 1966.
In the year 1980, the Indian Air Force (IAF) was asked by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to select two cosmonauts for a joint Indo-Soviet mission. Wing Commander Ravish Malhotra and Rakesh Sharma were selected. Due to some reasons, requirements were reduced to a single person that lead Rakesh to go for the task.
Rakesh undertook the scrupulous training around 3 years before setting off his foot for space. He was locked inside a closed room by the Air force facility in Bangalore for 72 hours to test for latent Claustrophobia. He had to learn the Russian Language because most of the instruction was given in Russian.
He even practised ‘Zero-Gravity Yoga’ to deal with the issue of space sickness.
In a joint conference held in Moscow, the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi asked Rakesh about how India looked from space, the reply came, “Saare Jahaan Se Achaa (The Best in the World).”
Many people conceive Rakesh Sharma to be the first person to walk on the moon but he is only the first Indian person to travel into space.
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