NASA Administrator Bill Nelson: An honor to speak with Rakesh Sharma, first Indian in space


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Bill Nelson expressed delight at meeting students at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and the first Indian to fly to space, Rakesh Sharma on Wednesday. Nelson, who is on a visit to India, said that the story of Rakesh Sharma lit up the room.

Sharing on his social media X, NASA Administrator stated, “It was a great honor to speak with students in Bengaluru today with Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to fly to space. His story lit up the room! To the Artemis Generation in India and beyond: Work hard, dream big, and reach for the stars. The universe is the limit!”

Rakesh Sharma went on to become the first Indian citizen to reach outer space on April 2, 1984, when he flew aboard the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.

He spent close to eight days in in space and India became the 14th nation to travel to outer space. Sharma’s work was mainly in the fields of bio-medicine and remote sensing.

Sharma conducted several scientific studies and experiments during his work on remote sensing and bio-medicine. The crew even held a conference with officials from space. When the then PM of India, Indira Gandhi asked Sharma how India looked from outer space, Sharma said “Saare Jahaan Se Achcha”. He said that the most beautiful moments in space were sunrise and sunset.

Nelson touched down in India on Tuesday, expressing his enthusiasm for a week of meetings and events aimed at strengthening the partnership between NASA and ISRO. He emphasized that India is a leader in space and is looking forward to a productive visit. He will also be visiting the UAE for a series of meetings with key government officials.

Nelson will also meet with space officials in both countries to deepen bilateral cooperation across a broad range of innovation and research-related areas, especially in human exploration and Earth science, the American space agency NASA said in a release.

Nelson’s visit to India will fulfil a commitment as part of the US and India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (ICET) launched by President Joe Biden.

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