Vikram Sarabhai- The Father of Indian Space Programme

Vikram Sarabhai

Today India’s ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) is creating milestones. Being the most affordable space programme and reaching mars in one try are one of its many achievements. ISRO made India proud by its many scientific achievements. But do you know? there was a man who established the foundation on which the world’s most affordable space program is working now. He was the father of Indian Space Programme– Vikram Sarabhai.

Today, the team of EncycloIndia will write the journey of Vikram Saarabhai

Vikram Sarabhai

Vikram Sarabhai

He was a great Indian physicist and astronomer who initiated the Space program in India and had a great contribution in developing nuclear power in India. 

Let’s read about his personal life

The great Vikram Sarabhai was born on 12 August 1919 in Ahmedabad, Bombay Presidency. The background of his family is itself a great legacy. The Sarabhai family were the major industrialists committed to the Indian Independence Movement. 

Vikram Sarabhai and family

His father Ambalal Sarabhai was an industrialist and a supporter of Mahatma Gandhi and he also participated in the Indian Independence Movement. His mother Sarla devi was a housewife. 

Vikram Sarabhai attended Gujarat College, but later he moved to the University of Cambridge, England. He took a tripos exam in natural sciences in 1940. In 1945, he came to Cambridge to pursue PhD and wrote a whole thesis,”Cosmic Ray Investigations in Tropical Latitudes,” in 1947. 

Vikram Sarabhai and his wfe

Vikram Sarabhai married the classical dancer Mrinalini in 1942. The couple had two children, one daughter and a son. The daughter Mallika gained prestige as an actress and activist and his son Kartikeya is one of the world’s leading environmental educators and a dedicated community builder.  

Vikram Sarabhai practised Jainism throughout his lifetime.  

The Life of Vikram Sarabhai 

In 1947, Vikram Sarabhai founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), known as the cradle of space science in India. PRL had a modest beginning, the “RETREAT”, with research on Cosmic Rays. However, it was formally established at the M.G. Science Institute, Ahmedabad, on 11 November 1947 with support from the Karmakshetra Educational Foundation and the Ahmedabad Education Society. Prof. Kalpathi Ramakrishna Ramnathan was the first director of the institute. The focus was research on cosmic rays and the properties of the upper atmosphere. The research was expanded to include theoretical physics and radio physics later with grants from the Atomic Energy Commission. 

Vikram Sarabhai varied his interests from science to sports and then to statistics. He led the first market research organisation in the country named Operation Research Group (ORG). He helped to set-up many institutes in which the most notable ones are the Nehru Foundation for Development in Ahmedabad, the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, the Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association (ATIRA) and the CEPT. 

Sarabhai also founded the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts along with his wife Mrinalini. 

He started a project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian satellite. As a result, the first Indian satellite, Aryabhatta was put in orbit from a Russian cosmodrome. 

Vikram Sarabhai was the founder of the Indian Space research Organisation (ISRO).

Death of Vikram Sarabhai

On 30 December 1971, Sarabhai was to review the SLV design before his departure for Bombay the same night. He had spoken to A.P.J Abdul Kalam on the telephone. After 1 hour of this conversation he died due to a cardiac arrest at the age of 52 in Thiruvananthapuram. He was cremated in Ahmedabad.