Rakesh Sharma

Last updated

Rakesh Sharma

Rakesh sharma.jpg
Rakesh Sharma, as a Squadron Leader in military uniform
Born (1949-01-13) 13 January 1949 (age 73)
Nationality Indian
Alma mater National Defence Academy
Air Force Academy (India)
Occupation Fighter Pilot at IAF
Resarch Cosmonaut at ISRO
Test pilot at HAL
Space career
Indian cosmonaut
Time in space
7d 21h 40m
Selection 1982 Intercosmos (India)
Missions Soyuz T-11 (launching)
Soyuz T-10 (landing)
Mission insignia
Soyuz-T-11-Mission-Patch.svg Rakesh Sharma Chest Patch.svg
Military career
AllegianceFlag of India.svg  India
Service/branchAir Force Ensign of India.svg  Indian Air Force
Years of service1970 - 1990
Rank Indian IAF OF-4.svg Wing Commander
Service number 12396 F(P)
Battles/wars 1971 Indo-Pakistani War
Awards Ashoka Chakra ribbon.svg Ashok Chakra
Hero of the Soviet Union
Spouse(s)Madhu Sharma

Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, AC (born 13 January 1949) is a former Indian Air Force pilot who flew aboard Soyuz T-11 on 3 April 1984 as part of the Soviet Interkosmos programme. He is the only Indian citizen to travel in space, although there have been other astronauts with some Indian background who were not Indian citizens. [1] [2] Another Air Force Pilot Ravish Malhotra was placed on standby. [3]


Early life

Born on 13 January 1949 in Patiala of present-day Punjab, India. [4] Sharma attended St. George's Grammar School, Hyderabad [4] and graduated from Nizam College, Hyderabad. He joined the National Defence Academy as an air force plebe in July 1966 [5] and was commissioned into the Indian Air Force as a pilot in 1970. [6]


IAF career

An alumnus of the 35th  National Defence Academy, Sharma joined the Indian Air Force as a test pilot in 1970 and progressed through numerous levels where in 1984 he was promoted to the rank of squadron leader. [4] He was selected on 20 September 1982 to become a cosmonaut and go into space as part of a joint programme between the Indian Air Force and the Soviet Interkosmos space programme. [7]


Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma's suit at Nehru Planetarium Nehru Planetarium costume of Rakesh Sharma.jpg
Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma's suit at Nehru Planetarium

In 1984, Sharma became the first Indian citizen to enter space when he flew aboard the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic on 3 April 1984. The Soyuz T-11 spacecraft carrying cosmonauts including Sharma docked and transferred the three member Soviet-Indian international crew, consisting of the ship's commander, Yury Malyshev, and flight engineer, Gennadi Strekalov, to the Salyut 7 Orbital Station. Sharma spent 7 days, 21 hours, and 40 minutes aboard the Salyut 7 during which his team conducted scientific and technical studies which included forty-three experimental sessions. His work was mainly in the fields of bio-medicine and remote sensing. [7] The crew held a joint television news conference with officials in Moscow and then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. When Indira Gandhi asked Sharma how India looked from outer space, he replied, " Sare Jahan Se Accha " (the best in the world). This is the title of a patriotic poem by Iqbal that had been written when India was under British colonial rule, that continues to be popular today. With Sharma's voyage aboard Soyuz T-11, India became the 14th nation to send a man to outer space. [7]


Sharma retired as a wing commander and later joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in 1987, serving as the chief test pilot in the HAL Nashik Division until 1992, before moving on to Bangalore to work as HAL's chief test pilot. Sharma retired from flying in 2001. [1]

Military awards and decorations

Sharma was conferred the honour of the Hero of the Soviet Union upon his return from space. He remains to date the only Indian to have been conferred this honour. India also conferred its highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra, on him and the two Soviet members of his mission, Malyshev and Strekalov. [7]

The citation for the Ashoka Chakra reads as follows: [8]

Gazette Notification: No.57-Pres/85 dated 7th May 1985

Date of Award: 3 April 1984

Ashoka Chakra citation



(12396) FLYING (PILOT)

In January 1982, when it was decided that an Indian would go into space on a Soviet space ship, Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma volunteered for this very challenging mission. After a very rigorous selection process, which included a most exacting medical test, he was selected as one of the two cosmonaut candidates from among 150 highly qualified and experienced pilots of the Indian Air Force. After his selection, he underwent training as a cosmonaut at YURI GAGARIN CENTRE in the USSR, where he applied himself with total devotion and dedication and won acclaim from Soviet Space experts. Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma completed a most arduous training schedule, with distinction and with exceptional professionalism.

On the 3rd April 1984, Sqn Ldr Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to orbit in space. He carried out all the scientific experiments planned for the joint Indo-Soviet Space Mission and other tasks assigned to him with great facility and excellence. Sqn Ldr Sharma has not only carved out a place for himself in the space roll of honour but has brought glory and credit to the nation.

Squadron leader Rakesh Sharma has thus displayed most conspicuous daring and courage to become the first Indian to go into space.

Ribbon bar

Ashoka Chakra ribbon.svg IND Paschimi Star Ribbon.svg IND Sangram Medal Ribbon.svg
IND Sainya Seva Medal Ribbon.svg IND Videsh Seva Medal Ribbon.svg IND 25th Anniversary Independence medal.svg IND 9YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg
Ashok Chakra Paschimi Star Sangram Medal
Sainya Seva Medal Videsh Seva Medal 25th Anniversary of Independence Medal 9 Years Long Service Medal

Personal life

Sharma married Madhu. His son, Kapil, is a film director, [9] while his daughter, Krittika, is a media artist.[ citation needed ]

A biographical Hindi-language film titled, Saare Jahaan Se Achcha (formerly "Salute"), is under pre-production since 2018. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Interkosmos Soviet international spaceflight program

Interkosmos was a Soviet space program, designed to help the Soviet Union's allies with crewed and uncrewed space missions.

Salyut 7 Space station launched on 19 April 1982

Salyut 7 was a space station in low Earth orbit from April 1982 to February 1991. It was first crewed in May 1982 with two crew via Soyuz T-5, and last visited in June 1986, by Soyuz T-15. Various crew and modules were used over its lifetime, including 12 crewed and 15 uncrewed launches in total. Supporting spacecraft included the Soyuz T, Progress, and TKS spacecraft.

Valentin Lebedev Soviet cosmonaut

Valentin Vitalyevich Lebedev is a Soviet cosmonaut who made two flights into space. His stay aboard the Space Station Salyut 7 with Anatoly Berezovoy in 1982, which lasted 211 days, was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.

Lev Dyomin Soviet cosmonaut

Lev Stepanovich Dyomin was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 15 spaceflight in 1974. This spaceflight was intended to dock with the space station Salyut 3, but the docking failed.

Aleksei Gubarev Soviet general, pilot and cosmonaut

Aleksei Aleksandrovich Gubarev was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on two space flights: Soyuz 17 and Soyuz 28.

Anatoly Solovyev Soviet-Russian cosmonaut and test pilot

Anatoly Yakovlevich Solovyev is a retired Russian and Soviet cosmonaut and pilot. Solovyev was born on January 16, 1948, in Riga, Latvia. Solovyev holds the world record on the number of spacewalks performed (16), and accumulated time spent spacewalking.

Gennady Strekalov Soviet-Russian engineer and cosmonaut

Gennady Mikhailovich Strekalov was an engineer, cosmonaut, and administrator at Russian aerospace firm RSC Energia. He flew into space five times and lived aboard the Salyut 6, Salyut 7, and Mir space stations, spending over 268 days in space. The catastrophic explosion of a Soyuz rocket in 1983 led to him being one of only four people to use a launch escape system. He was decorated twice as Hero of the Soviet Union and received the Ashoka Chakra from India.

Vladimir Georgiyevich Titov Russian air officer and cosmonaut

Vladimir Georgiyevich Titov is a retired Russian Air Force Colonel and former cosmonaut. He has participated in four spaceflight missions. The catastrophic explosion of a Soyuz rocket in 1983 led to him being one of only four people to use a launch escape system. He is married to Alexandra Kozlova, they have two children.

Phạm Tuân Retired Vietnam Air Force aviator and astronaut

Phạm Tuân is a retired Vietnam Air Force aviator and cosmonaut. He became the first Vietnamese citizen and the first person from an Asian country in space when he flew aboard the Soyuz 37 mission as an Interkosmos Research Cosmonaut. He was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.

Georgi Ivanov (cosmonaut) Bulgarian cosmonaut

Major general Georgi Ivanov Kakalov is a Bulgarian former military officer who was the first Bulgarian cosmonaut. He was a member of the National Assembly of Bulgaria in 1990.

Soyuz T-11 1984 space expedition

Soyuz T-11 was the sixth expedition to the Soviet Salyut 7 space station, which in 1984 carried the first Indian cosmonaut along with Soviet crew members.

Soyuz T-12

Soyuz T-12 was the seventh crewed spaceflight to the Soviet space station Salyut 7. The name "Soyuz T-12" is also the name of the spacecraft used to launch and land the mission's three-person crew. The mission occurred in July 1984, during the long-duration expedition Salyut 7 EO-3. During the mission, crew member Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to ever perform a spacewalk, and the potential Buran Space shuttle pilot, Igor Volk, was given spaceflight experience. Unlike many Soyuz visiting missions, the Soyuz lifeboats were not swapped, and the crew returned to Earth in the same spacecraft in which they launched.

Soyuz T-13 was a Soyuz mission, transporting personnel to the Soviet space station Salyut 7. The eighth expedition to the orbital station, the mission launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, atop a Soyuz-U2 carrier rocket, at 06:39:52 UTC on 1985-06-06. It is of note because it marked the first time a spacecraft had docked with a 'dead' space station, and the first time such a station had been returned to operational status following repairs.

Aleksandr Panayotov Aleksandrov Bulgarian cosmonaut (born 1951)

Aleksandr Panayotov Aleksandrov is a retired Bulgarian cosmonaut. He is the second Bulgarian to have flown to space, behind Georgi Ivanov.

Vladimir Vasyutin Soviet cosmonaut

Vladimir Vladimirovich Vasyutin was a Soviet cosmonaut.

Vladimir Solovyov (cosmonaut) Soviet cosmonaut

Vladimir Alekseyevich Solovyov is a former Soviet cosmonaut.

Ravish Malhotra Indian Air Force pilot

Ravish Malhotra is a retired Air Commodore of the Indian Air Force. He was an Air Force test pilot stationed at the test centre in Bangalore. He was also the Air Officer Commanding of Hindon Air Force Station near Delhi.

The Bulgarian cosmonaut program refers to human spaceflight efforts by the People's Republic of Bulgaria. The idea of a Bulgarian manned space mission predated the launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite. An informal proposal for the Soviet Union to send a Bulgarian cosmonaut in space was issued in 1964, but it was not seriously considered by the Soviets. Official space cooperation began in 1966 with the establishment of the Interkosmos programme which allowed Communist Bloc countries to access Soviet space technology and assets.

Indian Air Force Test Pilot School Military unit

The Indian Air Force Test Pilot School is a unit of the Indian Air Force (IAF) that evaluates aircraft and systems for induction into user organisations. Most new aircraft types and major airborne systems must have ASTE's stamp of approval to be considered fit for service in India. While many countries have testing facilities of one kind or the other, training of flight test personnel is not often imparted in them. ASTE's Air Force Test Pilots School (AFTPS) is only the fifth such institution in the world.


  1. 1 2 "Cosmonaut Biography: Rakesh Sharma". Spacefacts.de. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  2. "Rakesh Sharma". Mapsofindia.com. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  3. http://www.spacefacts.de/bios/international/english/malhotra_ravish.htm
  4. 1 2 3 "Rakesh Sharma". aerospaceguide.net. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  5. Tragedy and triumph in orbit : the eighties and early nineties. 195: Springer. June 2012. ISBN   978-1-4614-3430-6.CS1 maint: location (link)
  6. "Service Record for Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma 12396 F(P) at Bharat Rakshak.com". Bharat Rakshak .
  7. 1 2 3 4 Srinivasan, Pankaja (4 April 2010). "The down to earth Rakesh Sharma". The Hindu . Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  8. "Gallantry Awards | Ministry of Defence, Government of India". www.gallantryawards.gov.in.
  9. "Indian man has not kept pace with Indian woman: Kapil Sharma - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  10. "Farhan Akhtar Finalised to Star in Rakesh Sharma Biopic?". TheQuint . 30 July 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.