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Vikram Sarabhai 101st birth anniversary: Remembering the ‘Father of Space Program’

Vikram Sarabhai 101st birth anniversary: Remembering the ‘Father of Space Program’

By Sanjay Maurya

Indian physicist and astronomer Vikram Sarabhai was one of India’s most dynamic and beloved visionaries. Widely known as the ‘Father of the Indian Space Programme’, Vikram Sarabhai put India on the international map in the field of space research. It has been more than 50 years since Sarabhai’s death, but his work in the field of space research is still reaping rich dividends for the country.

Vikram Sarabhai

How Overwork Took Its Toll on Vikram Sarabhai – The Wire Science
Vikram Sarabhai | Credit Image: The Wire Science

Indian physicist

  • Born: 12 August 1919, Ahmedabad
  • Died: 30 December 1971, Halcyon Castle Trivandrum, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Spouse: Mrinalini Sarabhai (m. 1942)
  • Books: Management for Development
  • Education: St John’s College, MORE
  • Organizations founded: Indian Space Research Organisation, MORE
  • Awards: Padma Bhushan (1966), Padma Vibhushan (posthumously, 1972)

He studied at Gujarat College in Ahmedabad before transferring to the University of Cambridge in England. The Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) was established by Sarabhai in 1947. In India, PRL is also known as the birthplace of space science. In 1962, Sarabhai was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Medal. In 1966 and 1972, the nation honored him with the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awards.

Most important institutions founded by Vikram Sarabhai

  • Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad
  • Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad
  • Community Science Centre, Ahmedabad
  • Darpan Academy for Performing Arts, Ahmedabad (along with his wife)
  • Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad
  • Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), Kalpakkam
  • Variable Energy Cyclotron Project, Calcutta
  • Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad
  • Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Jaduguda, Bihar

Some interesting facts about Vikaram Sarabhai:

  • Vikram Sarabhai is the founder of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  • He is regarded as the Father of the Indian space program internationally.
  • Vikram Sarabhai also played a key role in developing management education in India by founding the Indian Institute of Management(IIM).
  • Vikram Sarabhai alsostarted the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) in Kalpakkam.
  • He started a project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian Satellite.
  • Due to his efforts, Aryabhata (the first Indian satellite), was put in orbit in 1975 from a Russian cosmodrome.
  • In 1962, Vikram Sarabhai was also the recipient of the Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Award of Physics.
  • He was also instrumental in developing the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station and initiated a program to manufacture sounding rockets in India.
  • In his honour, the lander on India’s lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, which was scheduled to touch down near the Moon’s south pole on September 20, 2019, was named Vikram.


30 December 1971, Sarabhai was to review the SLV design before leaving for Bombay. He spoke to APJ Abdul Kalam on the telephone. Within an hour of the conversation, Sarabhai died of cardiac arrest at the age of 52 in Trivandrum.

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