Rakesh Sharma, the Punjab-born cosmonaut, and pilot created history as he took India to become the 14th nation to travel outer space. As the Indian space hero turns 72 years old today, let's have a look at some of the interesting facts related to him.
1. Rakesh Sharma had taken Indian food to space with the help of the Defense Food Research Lab situated in Mysore. They had packed suji halwa, aloo chole and veg pulao which Sharma shared with fellow astronauts.
2. Rakesh Sharma was the first who practiced zero gravity yoga in order to deal with space sickness in 1984. His experiments were quite appreciated by The Rocosmos. At a conference in 2009, he suggested the next Indian cosmonauts to practice zero gravity yoga to cope up with space sickness.
3. Rakesh Sharma escaped a fatal accident while he was flying a MiG-21 near Nasik. He had been a chief test pilot at HAL where he used to test several aircraft.
4. Rakesh Sharma spent 7 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes in space. He also took pictures of North India from space.
5. When Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India asked Rakesh Sharma how India looked from outer space, he promptly replied, Saare jahan se achha (better than the whole world). He also said that the most beautiful moments in space were that of sunrise and sunset.
6. Rakesh Sharma is also the first Indian to have been conferred with the 'Hero of Soviet Union' award. He was also awarded Ashok Chakra alongwith his Russian co astronauts Yuri Malyshev and Genadi Strekalov.
7. Contrary to popular stories, Rakesh Sharma had never really been on moon. He had revealed in an interview that he went to the Near-Earth Orbit which sadly is not a very familiar concept to Indians.