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Wing Commander

Rakesh Sharma

Rakesh sharma.jpg
Born 13 January 1949 (1949-01-13) (age 72)
Patiala, Punjab, India
Status Active
Nationality Indian
Occupation Test pilot at the Indian Air Force
Awards Ashoka Chakra ribbon.svg Ashok Chakra
Hero of the USSR Gold Star.pngHero of the Soviet Union
Space career
Time in space
7d 21h 40m
Selection 1982
Missions Soyuz T-11 / Soyuz T-10
Mission insignia
Soyuz T-11 mission patch.gif
Military career
Allegiance  India
Service/branch Flag of the India Air Force India Air Force
Rank Wing Commander of IAF.png Wing Commander
Spouse(s) Madhu
Children Two, Kartika (daughter) and Kapil (son)

Rakesh Sharma (born 13 January 1949) is a retired Squadron Leader in the Indian Air Force. He was the first Indian and 138th person to travel in space.

Sharma retired from the Air force as Wing Commander. He spent eight days in Salyut 7 Space station in April 1984. He was given the Hero of Soviet Union by the Soviet Government and the Ashok Chakra by the Indian Government.


Sharma joined as a test pilot in the Indian Air Force in 1970. He flew various aircrafts, for example Mikoyan-Gurevich (MIG) aircraft in 1971. He was selected on 20 September in 1982 to become a cosmonaut and go into space as part of a joint program between the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Soviet Intercosmos space program.

In 1984, he became the first Indian to fly to space, when he flew aboard the Soyuz T-11. It took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in 2 April 1984. The Soyuz T-11 reached the Salyut 7 space station, with the ship's commander, Yury Malyshev, and flight engineer, Gennadi Strekalov. Sharma spent 7 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes in the Salyut 7. The crew held a television news conference with officials in Moscow and then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. When Gandhi asked Sharma how India looked from outer space, he replied, "Sare Jahan Se Accha" (the best in the world). This is the title of a patriotic poem by Muhammad Iqbal against the British Raj. India became the 14th nation to send a man to outer space.

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