Updated on: Wednesday, December 29, 2021, 07:42 PM IST

Dr Vikram Sarabhai Death Anniversary: All you need to know about 'Father Of India's Space Program'

After the death of physicist Homi Bhabha in 1966, Sarabhai was appointed chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India.
Dr Vikram Sarabhai  |

Dr Vikram Sarabhai |


Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai (12 August 1919 – 30 December 1971) is well known as a founder of ISRO, but little is known of the fact that he was involved in some major institution-building efforts in India. The most notable of them is the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Establishing the Indian National Committee for Space Research in 1962, which was later renamed the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Sarabhai also set up the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in southern India.

After the death of physicist Homi Bhabha in 1966, Sarabhai was appointed chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India.

Carrying forward Bhabha’s work in the field of nuclear research, Sarabhai was largely responsible for the establishment and development of India’s nuclear power plants.

He laid the foundations for the indigenous development of nuclear technology for defence purposes.

Vikram Sarabhai Legacy:

The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, (VSSC), which is the Indian Space Research Organization's lead facility for launch vehicle development located in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), capital of Kerala state, is named in his memory.

Indian Postal Department released a commemorative Postal Stamp On his first death anniversary (30 December 1972).

In 1973, two years after his death, the International Astronomical Union decided that a lunar crater, Bessel A, in the Sea of Serenity will be known as the Sarabhai crater.

The lander on India's moon mission Chandrayaan-2 which was to land near the South Pole of the moon on Sep 20, 2019, was named Vikram in his honour.

A Space Museum was dedicated to him at BM Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad on 26 July 2019. The museum was curated by Pranav Sharma.

On 30 September 2020, ACK Media along with ISRO released a book namely, Vikram Sarabhai: Pioneering India's Space Programme. It was released on Amar Chitra Katha's digital platform and merchandise, ACK Comics. A web series, Rocket Boys, is being produced on the life of Sarabhai and Homi J. Bhabha.

Dr Sarabhai started a project that would lead to the building of India’s first artificial satellite orbiting Earth. Launched in July 1976, Aryabhata became the first Indian satellite launched four years after the death of Dr Sarabhai on the Kapustin Yar a Russian rocket. It was named after an Indian astronomer and mathematician.

Vikram Sarabhai Awards:

In the year 1966, Vikram Sarabhai was honoured with Padma Bhushan- India's third-highest civilian award.

In the year 1972, he was honoured posthumously with Padma Vibhushan-- India's second-highest civilian award.


On 30 December 1971, Sarabhai was to review the SLV design before his departure for Bombay the same night. He had spoken to the then President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam on the telephone. However, within an hour of the conversation, Sarabhai died at the age of 52 due to cardiac arrest in Trivandrum (now Thiruvananthapuram). His body was cremated in Ahmedabad.

(with inputs from sources)

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Published on: Wednesday, December 29, 2021, 07:42 PM IST