This is Rakesh Sharma, the only Indian citizen to travel to space. 34 years ago, on April 2, 1984, he made history as a part of a joint program by Isro, or the Indian Space Research Organization, and the Soviet Intercosmos space program. He traveled on board the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.
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He was born on January 13, 1949 in Patiala, Punjab, India. After attending St. Georges Grammar School and graduating from Nizam College he joined the Indian Air Force. His success at the National Defense Academy led him to being commissioned as a pilot. Following over a decade of experience flying a variety of aircraft he was selected to become a cosmonaut on September 20, 1982.
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Two years later he would spend a week in space conducting scientific and technical studies in the fields of bio-medicine and remote sensing. The image below is Sharma with then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, who was the first woman to hold that position. When she asked him how India looked from outer space, he replied, "Saare Jahan Se Achcha,” or “the best in the world.”
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Sharma went on to retire with the rank of wing commander and joined the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to serve as the Chief Test Pilot of HAL. He was conferred with the honour of the Hero of the Soviet Union, which was their highest distinction. He was also given the Republic of India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra.
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He is still regarded as an Indian hero and continues to speak about his time in space and share his thoughts on space travel in general. Check out some amazing footage of Sharma below...