Vikram Sarabhai, the man behind India’s space research and who helped develop nuclear power in the country, was born on August 12, 1919.
Given the title of father of the Indian space program, Vikram Sarabhai is known for the establishment of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). In 1962, he was given Isro’s charge and worked for a token salary of one rupee in view of his personal wealth.
Sarabhai, who stressed the importance of the space program in India, was given two of India’s highest honours – the Padma Bhushan in 1966 and the Padma Vibhushan award in 1972. Sarabhai is credited for putting the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, in orbit in 1975 from Russia.
On his 102nd birth anniversary, the Isro launched India’s “eye in the sky” GISAT-1 Earth observation satellite (EOS), but the mission suffered a setback due to a performance anomaly in the cryogenic stage of the rocket moments after the launch.
He was a visionary scientist and institution-builder who called for the development of satellite-based remote sensing of natural resources. He was an inspiration to young scientists of the nation.
Sarabhal’s birth anniversary is also celebrated as National Remote Sensing Day in India.
Sarabhai helped set up many institutes, some of which are the Nehru Foundation for Development in Ahmedabad, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), the Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association (ATIRA) and the (CEPT).
Along with his wife Mrinalini Sarabhai, he founded the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts. Other projects and institutions initiated or established by him are the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) in Kalpakkam, Variable Energy Cyclotron Project in Calcutta, Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) in Hyderabad and Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) in Jaduguda, Jharkhand.