Remembering Vikram Sarabhai, the father of Indian space program
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai's monumental contributions enabled India to stand shoulder to shoulder with the world in the space sector. Let's look at some facts you must know about this visionary, great scientist and passionate patriot
India is on Friday remembering and honouring Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space program and architect of the Indian Space Research Organisation, on his birth anniversary. His monumental contributions enabled India to stand shoulder to shoulder with the world in the space sector. Let's look at some facts you must know about this visionary, great scientist and passionate patriot.
* Born in 1919, Sarabhai was educated at Gujarat college in Ahmedabad and St Johns College in Cambridge, UK. He completed his research on Photo-fission at Cavendish laboratories, Cambridge.
* When the second World War broke out, Sarabhai returned to India and joined the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru to continue his studies (1940-45) under the guidance of Nobel laureate Sir CV Raman.
Image: Vikram Sarabhai with Nobel laureate Sir CV Raman. Photograph: PIB
* In 1942, Sarabhai married Mrinalini, whose father Swaminathan was a well-known lawyer from Chennai and mother Ammu was a social worker.
* Sarabhai convinced charitable trusts run by his family and friends to fund a research institution near his home in Ahmedabad. On November 11, 1947, Sarabhai founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL).
* Besides the PRL, Sarabhai is also credited with playing a major role in the establishment of other well-known research institutions like the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Ahmedabad, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad, Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) in Kalpakkam, Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) in Hyderabad, Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) in Bihar's Jaduguda and the Darpan Academy for Performing Arts in Ahmedabad, which he founded along with his wife.
Image: Vikram Sarabhai at the United Nations as Scientific Chairman on Committee for Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes. Photograph: PIB
* After Russia (then USSR) launched Sputnik in October 1957, Sarabhai convinced Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru about the importance of a space programme for a developing country. He believed India should be second to none in applying advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.
* Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha, father of India's nuclear science programme, assisted Dr Sarabhai in setting up India's first rocket launching station at Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram. The spot was chosen primarily because of its proximity to the equator.
* The inaugural flight from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) at Thumba was launched on November 21, 1963, with a sodium vapour payload. Thereafter, several agencies from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and France used the facility to carry out experiments, and the site was dedicated to the UN in 1968.
* Sarabhai initiated the project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian Satellite. Over three years after his death on December 30, 1971, the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, was put in orbit in 1975 from a Russian Cosmodrome.
* Sarabhai passed away at the age of 52 at Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram. He was honoured with the country's third highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, posthumously in 1972.