Vikram Sarabhai played an instrumental role in building up the astronomical department in India and establishing space research facilities in India.

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Vikram Sarabhai - The Father Of Indian Space Program

Vikram Sarabhai played an instrumental role in building up the astronomical department in India and establishing space research facilities in India. He was born into a rich family and enjoyed a privileged livelihood.

Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was born on 12th August 1919 in Ahmedabad, Bombay Presidency, British India and died on 30th December 1971 in Halcyon Castle, Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. Right from the very beginning, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He had all means to study but felt drawn towards science and mathematics.


He gave his intermediate science exams from Gujarat College in Ahmedabad. He went away to England for further studying and got enrolled in St. John’s College. After returning to India, he researched on cosmic rays and enrolled himself in Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

  1. V. Raman was the motivator behind his interest in cosmic rays. In 1942, he published his first scientific paper which was titled as ‘Time Distribution of Cosmic Rays’. In 1945, he went back to Cambridge for researching further on cosmic rays. He did his PhD in this field and wrote the thesis on ‘Cosmic ray investigations in tropical latitudes’.


After India gained its independence from the clutches of British Rule, he returned back to his native country. He convinced the Government of India to focus on expanding research on developing space programmes. In 1947, he founded Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad. He even set up the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad which marked the second in the entire country.

In 1962, he was the main aggravator for setting up Ahmedabad’s Centre for the Environmental Planning and Technology University or CEPT University. The university offered various programs in the field of planning, architecture and technology.

In 1965, he established the Nehru Foundation for Development. The foundation runs for promoting the basic education on studying the current problems in the country regarding the individual development and development of society. He is also known for establishing Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre for encouraging general public and students for studying mathematics and science. He helped in establishing ISRO in 1969 which used space technology for India’s development.


Ø  1947- Established the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad

Ø  1962- Indian Science Congress-served as the President of the physics section

Ø  1962- he received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Medal

Ø  1962- Received the Padma Bhushan award

Ø  1970- I.A.E.A., Vienna- he served as the president of general conference

Ø  1971- he was elected as the vice president of the fourth United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy.

Ø  1972- Received the Padma Vibhushan award

Ø  HE served as a Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission. Along with others, he set up the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.

Ø  To honour him, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre is located in Thiruvananthapuram.

Ø  1973- A crater on the Moon is known as ‘Bessel A’ was renamed as ‘Sarabhai Crater’ by the International Astronomical Union.


Ø  After Russia’s launch of Sputnik satellite, Vikram Sarabhai went on to convince Indian Government for focusing on space research. He is said to the Father of Indian Space program.

Ø  In 1962, after a lot of persuasion and pleading, Indian National Committee for Space Research or INCOSPAR was established by the Indian Government. Vikram Sarabhai served as the first chairman of the INCOSPAR.

Ø  He even played an advisory role in INCOSPAR which was later renamed to ISRO or Indian Space Research Organisation after a lot of changes and reconstructions.

Ø  Homi Jahangir Bhabha (father of nuclear science program in India) and Vikram Sarabhai are known to have started the research in space in India before the independence only.

Ø  In 1947, Vikram Sarabhai established and founded the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. Cosmic rays were the first ever topic to be researched about.

Ø  Thumba, near Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, was selected as the first rocket launch site in India by Vikram Sarabhai. Coconut groves surrounded all over the site. He selected the place owing to its proximity to the equator. On 21st November 1963, the first ever flight was deployed from the site carrying sodium vapour payload.

Ø  Aryabhata, India’s first satellite was the brainchild of Vikram Sarabhai.

Ø  Vikram Sarabhai is also given credit for bringing the cable television in India. He made contact with NASA for establishing SITE or Satellite Instructional Television Experiment in the year 1975.

Ø  Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad was founded by him along with others.

Ø  In 1966, he received the Padma Bhushan award for helping in India progress. In 1972, he was bestowed with the Padma Vibhushan award for his relentless work in making India prosper.

Ø  In order to honour Vikram Sarabhai on his death anniversary, the Postal Service in India dedicated a stamp to him.