The first Indian to fly into space, Rakesh Sharma was born on January 13, 1949 in Patiala, Punjab. He was a squadron leader with the Indian Air Force, when he flew into space in 1984 as part of a joint programme between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Soviet Intercosmos space program. He spent eight days in space on board the Salyut 7 space station. He joined two other Soviet cosmonauts aboard the Soyuz T-11 spacecraft which blasted off on April 2, 1984.
He was awarded the Hero of Soviet Union award on his return from space. The Government of India honoured him with the Ashok Chakra. He retired with the rank of Wing Commander. He joined the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in 1987 and served as Chief Test Pilot in the HAL Nashik Division until 1992, before moving on to Bangalore
to work as the Chief Test Pilot of HAL. He retired from test flying in 2001.
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