Rakesh Sharma Birthday 13 January
On this day in 1949, India’s first astronaut Rakesh Sharma was born in Punjab. In July 1966, he was admitted to the National Defense Academy (NDA). At the age of 21, he joined the Air Force and used to fly supersonic fighter aircraft there. He had flown 21 times in the 1971 war with Pakistan and at that time he was not even 23 years old. Rakesh Sharma became the best Air Force pilot when he was 25 years old.
He went to space when he was 35 years old. Rakesh Sharma was the 128th person to go into space and was the first Indian. He was selected after a test of 50 fighter pilots. Apart from him, Ravish Malhotra was also selected and both were sent for training in Russia. However, Ravish Malhotra was the backup. Rakesh Sharma embarked on a space trip from Soyuz T-11 on 3 April 1984 under the joint mission of ISRO and Soviet Union (now Russia). He spent 7 days 21 hours and 40 minutes in space.
The country spoke for the first time with its citizen in space through a joint conference with the crew of the Soyuz T-11 from Saare Jahan Achcha Space. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had asked him what India looked like from space? He replied in Hindi – Saare Jahan Se Achcha.
After returning from space, he resumed his life as a jet pilot. He flew fighter aircraft like Jaguars. Rakesh Sharma has also been awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union Award. He is the only Indian who has received this honor. Along with this, he has also been awarded the Ashoka Chakra.