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Happy Birthday Rakesh Sharma: Lesser-known facts about the first and only Indian in space since 1984

Indian space hero, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma turns 71 today.

Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma is part of India’s space folklore after he became the first Indian to orbit in space way back in April 1984 aboard Russia’s Soyuz T-11. He spent 7 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes in space along with two Soviet astronauts, Yury Malyshev and Gennadi Strekalov.

Born on January 13, 1949, in Patiala, Rakesh Sharma, before turning into a cosmonaut, worked as an air force pilot in the Indian Armed Forces.

Sharma immortalised ‘Saare Jahan Se Acha, Hindustan Hamara’ when he told the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that that’s how India looked from up above.

“How does India look from space,” India’s prime minister asked Rakesh Sharma. “I can say without any hesitation “Saare Jahan se acha” (best in the world).”

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