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By Harshmeet Singh

Though the line ‘saare jahan se achcha, Hindustan hamara’ was first recited by Iqbal, it has been immortalized by Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to fly into space. Despite being a part of all the school GK books and an answer to a common quiz question across the schools, Rakesh Sharma remains a down to earth person.

As he celebrates his 67th birthday today, NewsGram warmly wishes him a Happy Birthday by bringing to you five lesser known facts about the man who took India’s name higher than ever, both literally and figuratively!

  1. Upon his return from the space, he was conferred India’s highest peace time gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra. He was also awarded the title ‘Hero of Soviet Union’, which was Soviet Union’s ‘highest distinction awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.’

Ashoka Chakra was also conferred upon Col Yuri Vasilevich Malyzhev and Col Gennady Mikhailovich Strekalov, the other members of the mission. This remains the only occasion when Ashoka Chakra was awarded to foreigners.

2. After becoming a cosmonaut, he was a decorated pilot of the India Air Force and a squadron leader.

3. He went to space in the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 which was a joint collaboration between ISRO and Soviet Intercosmos space program.

4. Post his space journey, he joined the HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) to take up the role of Chief Test Pilot at the Nashik Division.

5. His son, Kapil Sharma is a Bollywood director, and has directed the movie ‘I, Me aur Main’ starring John Abraham, Prachi Desai and Chitrangada Singh.

(Images courtesy:,,


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