The former PM of India Indira Gandhi is remembered for her heroic decisions which she took during her tenure as a Prime Minister. And under her government only India launched it’s first space mission with the help of Soviet Intercosmos space program on April 2, 1984. The trip was made Rakesh Sharma the first Indian in Space but the event is also remembered for a conversation from space that he had with then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Sharma himself sent the entire country into a tizzy when, in reply to the prime minister’s query on how India looked from space, he quoted the poet Iqbal’s immortal lines, “Saare jahan se achcha.” (better than the whole world).’
He spent 7 days 21 hours and 40 minutes aboard the Salyut 7 orbital station. He carried with him portraits of Indira Gandhi, President Zail Singh, Defence Minister Venkataraman and some soil from Rajghat, where the mortal remains of Mahatma Gandhi are kept.
Sharma was accompanied on the mission by two Russian cosmonauts, and they had undergone 18 months of training for the journey. Their launch vehicle took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in present-day Kazakhstan. In those eight days, the crew conducted more than 40 experiments connected with earth sciences, material sciences and bio medicine, including an earth observation programme focusing on India.
It has been more than three decades and no other Indian citizen has ever been to space. The Indian Space Research Organisation is making gradual progress with developing technologies that could take humans to space.
The BBC article on Sharma describes how Gandhi was pushing for an Indian in space before the 1984 general elections, and few months after the mission on October 31 Indira Gandhi was assassinated.