Rakesh Sharma, first Indian in space, recounts his tough journey

Jaipur, March 6 (IANS) The IAS Literary Secretary of the IAS Association in Rajasthan, Mugdha Sinha, on Saturday held a conversation with Wing Commander (Retd) Rakesh Sharma on ‘Mission Space’.
The Facebook live session between Sinha and Sharma focussed on the latter’s life, his career as an Air Force Pilot, his experience as the first Indian to travel in space in April 1984 and women in science, among other topics.
Talking about his opportunity to go into space, the Wing Commander said that he had undergone 18 months of training in Star City in Moscow.
All the technical studies, exams, crew interactions, simulator training were conducted in Russia, so he had to learn the Russian language as a part of his training.
It was a very tough journey but he held on because at the end of his struggle was the dream to travel into space.
Sharma said that gravity makes a big difference in space.
“It affects one’s body physiologically. One can experience nausea and vertigo as a part of space sickness but the body does stabilise in 2-3 days.
“Working in space without gravity is much harder as everything has to be strapped down. All tasks must be carried out sequentially. A task that takes 30 minutes to do on Earth will take an hour to do in space. Eating habits in space are also different. Although one eats similar food like that on Earth but it is processed differently.”
Sharing an inspirational message for women aspiring to pursue a career in technology, the Wing Commander said: “Do not think you are a woman when you are coming into the field of technology. Gender bias has no room here. This is not an easy job so do not come thinking to make money but come to fulfill your dreams and passion.”
“Choose something larger than yourself then only can you access your hidden talents. Do not let go of your indigenous values and principles.”

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