Rakesh Sharma, a former Indian Air Force pilot, made history on April 3, 1984, when he became the first Indian man to travel to space. Sharma flew aboard the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz T-11 as part of the Intercosmos program and spent a total of 7 days, 21 hours, and 40 minutes in space.
During his time in space, Sharma conducted a series of experiments and observations, including studying the effects of microgravity on the human body and taking photographs of the Earth from space. He also famously spoke with then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who asked him how India looked from space, to which he famously replied, “Saare jahan se achcha” (better than the whole world).
Sharma’s historic achievement inspired a generation of Indians and put India on the map in the field of space exploration. He was awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, for his contributions to the nation’s space program.
Today, Sharma’s legacy continues to inspire young Indians to pursue careers in science and technology, and his historic journey to space serves as a symbol of India’s growing technological prowess and ambitions in the field of space exploration.