In September 1982 an Indian who was in his early thirties, who was also a former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot was selected to travel into space as part of a joint programme by ISRO and the Soviet Intercosmos space programme.
After just 2 years of his induction into the programme, he became the first Indian to reach space when he flew on board Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.
He was none other than Rakesh Sharma who spent 7 days 21 hours and 40 minutes aboard the Salyut 7 during which his team conducted scientific and technical studies which included 43 experimental sessions.
How could he forget India while he was in space? During a televised joint television news conference with officials in Moscow and then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the latter had asked him “how India looked from outer space?”.
His reply was “Saare Jahan Se Achcha (the best in the world)”. Isn’t this an evergreen reply for the Indians?
Curious Indians might ask what Rakesh Sharma did in the space!
Rakesh Sharma conducted an Earth observation program concentrating on India. He also did life sciences and materials processing experiments, including silicium fusing tests. He is also reported to have experimented with practicing yoga to deal with the effects of prolonged orbital spaceflight, said the reports.
It has been more than three decades but there is no other Indian who ventured into the space and about this Mr Sharma is not happy. Last year he had said “I feel sorry that I’m the only Indian to have been to space and that too 33 years ago. There hasn’t been any other Indian, I feel lonely in that sense. I also feel bad that my other two companions on the trip are no more. It was of course, a life changing moment for me. The space journey has impacted me in a great way”.
He also cherished the time spent in space saying “this is the reason it has reached so far. I believe that is the better way to go about it. We should do our own thing, up to now we have done all the right things. We are in a mode of survival today”.
He had also given a blueprint to the Indian on how to achive in the field of exploring new living place for humans. He said “I would like it to be a voice which shapes an inclusive policy for humans. We are at a threshold where we starting space exploration. We are going to populating the moon first and then Mars. I wish we don’t do it by ourselves and alone because it will be resource intensive. I don’t think so that it is the best way to utilise our resources given our other needs and compulsion. We are respected in the space community and we can carry our weight for future missions. I’m proud that India’s space programme has achieved so much in such a short span of time”.
Source:Times Of India