The first person from India to venture into space, discover their identity

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Rakesh Sharma etched an immensely noteworthy milestone in India’s space exploration history, solidifying his status as the very first Indian to embark on a journey beyond Earth’s confines.

Rakesh Sharma’s pioneering achievement marked a momentous milestone in India’s space exploration history, as he became the first Indian to journey into outer space. His historic mission to the Salyut 7 space station, which endured for seven days, 21 hours, and 40 minutes, etched an indelible mark on both Indian and global space history.

Date of Birth: January 13th, 1949

Place of Birth: Patiala, Punjab

Mother and Father: Devendranath Sharma and Tripata Sharma

Spouse: Madhu Sharma

Educational Background: Graduated from the 35th National Defence Academy

The Academic Journey of Rakesh Sharma

Rakesh Sharma’s early educational journey saw him enrolled at both St. Ann’s High School and St. George’s Grammar School. Later, he achieved his graduation milestone at Nizam College in Hyderabad. However, it was his transformative training experience at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Khadakvasla, Pune, that paved the way for his remarkable voyage into space, etching a historic chapter in his life.

Career in the Indian Air Force: A Profession of Distinction

In 1970, Rakesh Sharma embarked on his career with the Indian Air Force as a test pilot. Over the course of his service, he climbed the ranks to become a squadron leader by 1984. During the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, he exhibited his prowess by piloting Mig-21 planes in the completion of 21 combat missions.

A pivotal moment in Sharma’s life occurred on September 20, 1982, when he was selected for a distinctive initiative jointly orchestrated by the Indian Air Force and the Soviet Union’s space program. This extraordinary opportunity led him to the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow, where he dedicated two years to rigorous training in preparation for his upcoming space voyage.

Before venturing into the cosmos, Sharma underwent a comprehensive 72-hour assessment for claustrophobia. This evaluation involved being confined to a room, a test that he successfully surmounted. Finally, on the day of his historic journey, he etched his name in the annals of history as the very first Indian to venture into the realm of space—an awe-inspiring odyssey that began with his role as a test pilot and culminated in his transformation into an intrepid space explorer.

The inaugural Indian to journey into the cosmos

Rakesh Sharma made history as the pioneer among Indians to venture into space. It was on the memorable date of April 3, 1984, when he embarked on his celestial journey aboard the Soyuz T-11 spacecraft, which was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. This remarkable mission saw the Soyuz T-11 spacecraft successfully dock at the Salyut-7 space station, where Rakesh Sharma, along with his two fellow crew members, spent a total of 7 days, 21 hours, and 40 minutes conducting a wide array of technical and scientific experiments. Among their extensive research endeavors, they carried out 43 experimental sessions, with Rakesh Sharma focusing primarily on remote sensing and bio-medicine studies.

The significance of this historic mission was underscored by a joint televised news conference with then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, during which she posed a poignant question to Rakesh Sharma, inquiring about how India appeared from the vantage point of outer space. In response, Rakesh Sharma eloquently quoted the poet Iqbal, proclaiming, “Sare Jahan Se Accha.” This momentous journey of Rakesh Sharma elevated India’s status to that of the 14th nation to send a human into space, marking the 128th individual to embark on this extraordinary voyage beyond Earth’s bounds.

Honors bestowed upon Rakesh Sharma

Rakesh Sharma garnered numerous accolades in recognition of his achievements, including:

  1. Silver Jubilee Independence Commemorative Medal
  2. Distinguished Service Medal for Nine Years of Dedicated Service
  3. Ashoka Chakra Award
  4. Honored as a Hero of the Soviet Union
  5. Paschimi Star Decoration
  6. Sainya Seva Medal for Exemplary Military Service
  7. Sangram Medal for Valor in Battle
  8. Videsh Seva Service Medal for Outstanding Foreign Service

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