India’s Legendary Cosmonaut, Rakesh Sharma - The Untold Story
It was some two years back when the New York Times published a cartoon in which they mocked Indian’s ISRO for their Mars Mission prior to its launch. On February 15th, NY Times wrote, “India’s space agency launched a flock of 104 satellites into space over the course of 18 minutes on Wednesday, nearly tripling the previous record for single-day satellite launches and establishing India as a key player in a growing commercial market for space-based surveillance and communication.” That’s ISRO for you- The Boss.
While India placed its name in the world history after this event, we decided to cover the much celebrated first Indian in space, Rakesh Sharma’s story.
On April 2, 1984, India was a proud nation with its favourite son being a crew member of the Soyuz T-11 on its mission to space. As millions of Indians looked towards the sky on this very auspicious day, Tripta and Devendranath Sharma were the happiest parents of the world.
Born on January 13th 1949 in Patiala, Punjab, Rakesh attended Nizam College. After sometime he joined the Indian Air Force as a cadet at the age of 18. He was later commissioned into Indian Air Force as a pilot. Thereafter the journey to become the first Indian in space begun. In a quick succession of time, he rose to the rank of Squadron Leader after which he was selected for space travel.
On September 20, 1982, he was chosen to fly to space as part of a joint mission between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Soviet Intercosmos space program.
Sharma spent 7 days 21 hours and 40 minutes aboard the Salyut 7 orbital station. He with his team conducted scientific and technical studies which included 43 experimental sessions in the fields of bio-medicine and remote sensing.
The crew held a joint television news conference with officials in Moscow and then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Indira said, “Yours is a historic endeavour and I hope it will make our country space conscious and make young people more adventurous.” When she asked Sharma how India looked from outer space, he replied “Saare Jahan Se Achchaa”.
Here’s a video from that conference, the world looked at with awe.
Upon his return from space, he was conferred with the honour of the “Hero of the Soviet Union”. The Republic of India conferred its highest peacetime gallantry award, the “Ashoka Chakra” on him and the other two Soviet members of his mission, Malyshev and Strekalov.
With such incredible achievements under his belt, it’s not surprising that Aamir Khan is going to portray the character of Rakesh Sharma in his upcoming biopic.
In an interview to Deccan Chronicle, Mr. Sharma himself said, “This (the biopic) has been going on since the last eight years now. It has taken long to come to this point. The filmmakers were busy with other projects and I was busy too. It is a very tedious affair. It’s still in the offing and Aamir Khan is going to play my role. But the rest has not been finalised. It all depends on how the movie is handled. Even the final script is not locked yet, so I don’t know what parts of my life will be portrayed on screen.”
It would be fun seeing the life of this cosmonaut on screen. And when its Mr. Perfectionist in the lead role, can we expect an Indian Interstellar? Let's wait and watch what the director Mahesh Mathai has to show in his upcoming movie.