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Home > News > PTI

India's first man in space ready to go to again

Ramnath Shenoy in Bangalore | November 15, 2006 16:53 IST

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As India mulls a maiden manned space mission in 2014, its first cosmonaut Wing Commander (retired) Rakesh Sharma has said he would be ready to join the endeavour if given a chance.

"If I am medically fit at that point, I will certainly volunteer one more time," he told PTI here in an interview. "Sure, if the offer is made, I am ready to go."

Sharma spent eight days in space aboard the Salyut 7 space station with two Soviet cosmonauts in April 1984. Then a squadron leader, Sharma conducted multi-spectral photography of northern India in anticipation of the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the Himalayas.

The 57-year-old Sharma dismissed suggestions that advancing age could go against him as New Delhi looks for a man to go into space.

"(US astronaut) John Glenn flew a second time into space a few years ago at the age of 70. I am much younger than Senator John," he remarked.

Sharma, who was conferred the country's highest civilian gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra, with the two Russian cosmonauts of his mission, made no secret of his eagerness to return to space again.

He noted that he has been through the training for a manned mission and knew what was required from a managerial point of view.

"It depends on what role the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) feels I can contribute to (the mission). My experience is more than anybody else's."

Pointing out that he was a test pilot by profession and has been in aviation for 33 years, including more than 20 years in testing, the former Chief Test Pilot at Hindustan

Aeronautics Limited remarked, "So, it (the proposed manned space mission by India) would be one of those test flights for me."

Sharma, who also practised zero-gravity yoga exercises aboard Salyut 7, said, "I can certainly contribute (to the proposed mission). I am the only one (Indian) who had the good fortune of having gone into space and I think I would only be too happy to be able to share my experience to support this new endeavour. That's something I would look forward to."

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