The outer space is said to be the world of infinite possibilities and there are very few humans who have achieved the privilege of going out to that space, millions of miles away from earth. The experience of zero gravity and no air is beyond a lay man’s comprehension. Astronauts are those trained humans who are extensively trained by a human spaceflight program to perform various tasks such as commanding, piloting, or serving as a crew member of a spacecraft. They are also trained to handle themselves in zero gravity.

Not just anyone can become an astronaut. Astronauts are always held with the highest respect since they have worked very hard to achieve this. The first ever man to go to outer space was Yuri Gagarin and woman was Valentina Tereshkova. The first man to land on the moon and walk on it was Neil Armstrong. Indian have also accomplished greatly in space travel. 4 Indians and Indian origin became astronauts. India also has its own space research centre called the Indian Space Research Organisation and they have launched many successful missions such as Mangalyaan or the Mars Orbital Project and many more.

To get to know about these popular Astronauts and their achievements, have formed the list of 4 Popular Indian Astronauts and their Achievements:


1. Rakesh Sharma

Before space travel, rakesh sharma

The first name on this list is of Rakesh Sharma. He is the first ever Indian citizen who became an astronaut. He was born on 13 January 1949. Prior to becoming an astronaut, Rakesh Sharma joined the National Defence Academy. Then in 1970, he was commissioned as a pilot in the Indian Air Force. He is among the most respected alumnus of the NDA. On 20 September1982, Rakesh Sharma got selected to become an astronaut. This was done under the joint program between the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Soviet Intercosmos space program to send people into space.

Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 that was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic on the second of April 1984 had Rakesh Sharma on board as a part of the crew. He was trained extensively for this program. The total time he spent was 7 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes. When he was aboard the Salyut 7, his main tasks included conduction of various scientific and technical studies. These studies had about forty-three experimental sessions. Sharma got retired at the post of Wing Commander and then ultimately retired from flying in 2001.


2. Kalpana Chawla

Portait of Kalpana Chawla

The name probably every man and woman know in this country is of Kalpana Chawla. She is not only an astronaut but also an inspiration for many. She was born on March 17, 1962. She was born in Karnal, India and to achieve her dreams of becoming an astronaut she moved to the USA. She received her Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India and then soon she moved to the USA, in 1982, where she received her Master’s and PhD. In 1991, Kalpana applied to join the NASA Astronaut Corps and then she joined it by the year 1995.

In 1996, she was selected to go on her first outer space mission. Her first space mission included a six-astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87 and for her second Mission, she was the part of the crew for STS-107. Though the crew got on space aboard very safely, they could not return back the same. The mission was already said to have many technical issues and that ultimately became the reason for the failure of the mission. All the seven-membered crew is said to have disintegrated when returning to earth. Thus marking, February 1, 2003, as an ill-fated day.


3. Sunita Williams

Portrait of Sunita Williams

Sunita Pandya Lyn Williams is popularly known as Sunita Williams is a very popular astronaut who has many accomplishments to her name. She is descendant of Indo-Slovenian origins. She was born on born September 19, 1965. In 1987, she got her Bachelor’s degree in physical sciences from the United States Naval Academy. From there she began her carrier in United States Navy. In the navy, she started her training at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and thus became a pilot for the navy. Soon after that, she was selected for the astronaut program by the NASA.

Throughout her carrier at NASA. She has been part of the space shuttle mission multiple times. She was launched to the outer space for the first time on December 9, 2006, on STS-116. In this expedition, she completed three spacewalks and did various other researches. She ran the first ever marathon on the moon. She was brought back with the STS-117. NASA again selected her to join the expeditions 32 and 33. For expedition 33, she was the chosen as the commander. She has successfully spent 321 days 17 hours 15 minutes in the outer space. She is among the best astronauts ever.


4. Ravish Malhotra

Cosmonaut Ravish Malhotra

Ravish Malhotra is a name very few know of. He is often called a forgotten hero and here in this list, we would like to share about this great man. Ravish Malhotra was born on 25 December 1943. He was born in Lahore, British India. He has his education at National Defence Academy and just like Rakesh Sharma, he later became a pilot at the Indian Air Force. His story is not very different from Rakesh Sharma and is the lesser known companion of India’s first astronaut. On 20 September1982, Rakesh Sharma got selected to become an astronaut when he was a Wing Commander.

This was done under the joint program between the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Soviet Intercosmos space program to send people into space. He was then selected to be the back-up for Rakesh Sharma. Ravish went through just as much intense training as Rakesh and became a great cosmonaut. Though he did not go to space, he became a successful cosmonaut and contributed highly to make Rakesh the first successful Indian astronaut. He got retired from the IAF as Air Commodore. He has also worked as a test pilot.

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