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Austronaut Rakesh Sharma

  • Date Submitted: 08/22/2010 09:48 PM
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Rakesh Sharma (born January 13, 1949) is a former Indian Air Force test pilot and cosmonaut. Sharma was the first Indian and 138th person to travel in space.[1][2] Early life
Sharma was born in 1949 to Tripta in Patiala, Punjab, India and was schooled at St Anne's High School, Sikanderabad. Rakesh Sharma joined the NDA as an Air Force cadet in July 1966 and passed out as a DCC in June 1969 with the 36th Course. He was commissioned into the Indian Air Force as a Pilot Officer in 1970. In 1971 operations against Pakistan, he flew various missions in his MIG aircraft with distinction.[3]
Career
Sharma joined the Indian Air Force and progressed rapidly through the ranks. Sharma, then a Squadron Leader and pilot with the Indian Air Force embarked on a 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 Soviet cosmonauts aboard Soyuz T-11 on the 2 April 1984, was 35-year-old Sharma. During the flight, Sharma conducted multi-spectral photography of northern India in anticipation of the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the Himalayas. In a famous conversation, he was asked by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi how India looked from space, to which he replied, Saare Jahan Se Achcha, (a reference to an iconic song used in India's freedom struggle, usually referred to as 'Saare Jahaan se achcha Hindustan Hamara, 'better than the entire world, is our land of Hindustan').
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.
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...

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