Rakesh Sharma: Celebrating 40 Years of India’s Space Odyssey

As India commemorates the 40th anniversary of Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma’s historic flight into space, the nation reflects on his monumental achievement and the enduring spirit of exploration that it represents.

In an exclusive interview with NDTV’s Science Editor Pallava Bagla, Rakesh Sharma, now 75 years old, reminisced about his journey to space aboard a Soviet rocket. He expressed his desire to experience the awe-inspiring sights of Earth from space once again, this time as a tourist, relishing the opportunity to marvel at the wonders of the cosmos.

Sharma’s iconic response to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s question about how India appeared from space—“Saare jahan se accha”—captivated the nation and became a symbol of national pride. Reflecting on this momentous occasion, S Somanath, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), praised Sharma’s journey as an inspiration for the nation and a testament to the limitless potential of human endeavor.

The historic significance of Sharma’s mission resonates even today as India prepares for its maiden human space flight, Mission Gaganyaan. ISRO, buoyed by the success of past missions, looks back on Sharma’s pioneering flight with reverence and admiration.

On April 3, 1984, Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma made history as India’s first “Gaganyatri,” spending 7 days and 21 hours aboard the Soviet space station. His journey not only demonstrated India’s technological prowess but also fostered a sense of national pride and unity.

As the nation celebrates this milestone, it is a moment to honor Sharma’s remarkable achievement and the lasting impact he has had on Indian space exploration. His legacy serves as a beacon of inspiration for future generations, reminding us of the power of human ingenuity and the boundless possibilities that lie beyond the confines of our planet.


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