Rakesh Sharma Biography: Birth, Age, Education, Career, Awards and More About Indian Astronaut

Rakesh Sharma Biography: Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma was the first Indian and 138th person to travel to space. He spent 7 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes aboard the Salyut 7 space station. With Sharma’s space voyage, India became the 14th nation in the world to send a man to outer space.

Rakesh Sharma Biography

Birth 13 January 1949
Age73 years

St. George’s Grammar School, Hyderabad

Nizam College Hyderabad

35th National Defence Academy


Fighter Pilot at IAF

Resarch Cosmonaut at ISRO

Test pilot at HAL


Hero of the Soviet Union

Ashoka Chakra

Paschimi Star    

Sangram Medal

Sainya Seva Medal    

Videsh Seva Service Medal    

9 Years Long Service Medal

25th Anniversary of Independence Medal  

ChildrenKapil and Krittika

Rakesh Sharma Biography: Birth, Age, and Education

Rakesh Sharma was born on 13 January 1949 in Patiala, India (present-day Punjab, India). He is an alumnus of  St. George’s Grammar School, Hyderabad, Nizam College Hyderabad, and the 35th National Defence Academy. 

Rakesh Sharma Career

Rakesh Sharma was commissioned into the Indian Air Force as a pilot in 1970. He flew 21 combat missions in a MiG-21 fighter jet during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. 

On 20 September 1982, he was chosen to become a cosmonaut as part of a joint initiative between India and the Soviet Union. He underwent rigorous training for two years at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow and was even locked inside a closed room at an IAF facility in Bangalore for 72 hours to detect if he suffered from claustrophobia. Wing Commander Ravish Malhotra was on standby. 

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First Indian to go to space

Rakesh Sharma entered space aboard the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11, thereby becoming the first Indian to go to space. The  Soyuz T-11 rocket was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic on 3 April 1984. It docked and transferred the three-member Soviet-Indian international crew which included the spaceship commander Yury Malyshev and flight engineer Gennadi Strekalov, to the Salyut 7 Orbital Station.

He spent 7 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes aboard the Salyut 7 space station. The mission conducted scientific and technical studies, including 43 experimental sessions, but he was tasked with bio-medicine and remote-sensing. 

The Soviet-Indian crew had a joint television news conference with Moscow officials and then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. When asked, how India looked from outer space, Sharma replied, Sare Jahan Se Achcha. 

Smt Indira Gandhi : How does India look from there?

Sq Ldr Rakesh Sharma: Saare Jahan Se Acha 🇮🇳

It is today in 1984 that India launched it’s first space mission with the help of Soviet Intercosmos space program.

Rakesh Sharma was the first Indian to journey to space. pic.twitter.com/DS42NCAw6K

— All India Mahila Congress (@MahilaCongress)
April 2, 2020

Over the years, Rakesh Sharma rose up the ranks and retired as a Wing Commander. In 1987, he joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as the chief test pilot at Nashik and moved to the Bangalore division in 1992. He retired from flying in 2001. 

Rakesh Sharma: Wife and Children

Rakesh Sharma is married to Madhu and the couple has two children– Kapil and Krittika. His son Kapil is a film director while his daughter Krittika is a media artist. 

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Rakesh Sharma: Awards and Honours

Upon his return from space, Sharma was conferred the honour of the Hero of the Soviet Union. He is the only Indian to have been conferred this honour.  India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra, was also conferred on him, and the other two members of the mission, Malyshev and Strekalov.

Interesting Facts

1- The Defense Food Research Lab, Mysore, packed suji halwa, aloo chole and veg pulao for Sharma’s space voyage. 

2- He practised zero gravity yoga to deal with space sickness in 1984. 

3- He took photographs of India from space, thereby saving India two years of aerial photography to map the same area. He also observed a fire in Burma (present-day Myanmar).

4- Sharma carried portraits of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, President Zail Singh, Defence Minister Venkataraman and soil from Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi, to space. 

Rakesh Sharma: Current Life

Rakesh Sharma is a popular motivational speaker and has written several books about his experiences in space. He is also a member of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s National Advisory Council for Gaganyaan, which is responsible for India’s ambitious human spaceflight program.

Sharma lives a simple and content life in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, with his wife, Madhu. He is no longer in the public eye, but he continues to contribute to India’s space program as a member of ISRO’s National Advisory Council for Gaganyaan.

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Source: HIS Education

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