Father of Indian Space Program- Dr. Vikram Sarabhai’s Education Journey

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Known as the Father of the Indian Space Program, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was a renowned Indian physicist and astronomer who encouraged space research and played a vital role in developing nuclear power in India. He is a Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan. He died at the age of 52 in 1971. This blog gives you an insight into the educational journey of the Father of the Indian Space Program. 

Dr Vikram Sarabhai with family
Credits: Pepulika
Father of Indian Space Program Dr. Vikram Sarabhai
Born  12 August 1919
Ahmedabad
British India
Parents  Ambalal Sarabhai(Father)
Married to  Mrinalini Sarabhai
Children Mallika Sarabhai (Daughter)
Kartikeya Sarabhai (Son)
Alma Mater University of Cambridge
Known for  Indian space program
Field Physics
Institutions  Indian Space Research Organisation Physical Research Laboratory
Doctoral Advisor C.V Raman 
Death  30 December 1971
Kerala, India

Who is Dr. Vikram Sarabhai?

Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai (August 12, 1919 – December 30, 1971) was an Indian physicist and astronomer who pioneered space exploration and contributed to the development of nuclear power in India. In 1966, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, and in 1972, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan (posthumously). He is known across the world as the “Father of India’s Space Program.”

Life and Education of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was born to a well-known Indian industrialist, philanthropist, institution builder, Ambalal Sarabhai. He married Mrinalini Sarabhai and the couple has two children, Mallika Sarabhai (Daughter) and Kartikeya Sarabhai (Son).

He attended Gujarat College in Ahmedabad, India. In 1940, he moved to the University of Cambridge where he took his tripos in natural sciences. In 1945, he returned to Cambridge post-world war II  and pursued a PhD. In 1947, he wrote a thesis “Cosmic Ray Investigations in Tropical Latitudes” 

Dr Vikram Sarabhai
Credits: ISRO

Also Read: Education of Nelson Mandela

Father of the Indian Space Program

Vikram Sarabhai, who pioneered India’s space program and assisted in the development of nuclear power, was a remarkable institution builder who built or assisted in the establishment of, a huge number of institutions in a variety of subjects. On November 11, 1947, Vikram Sarabhai established the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad. He was only 28 years old at the time. Sarabhai was an institution builder and nurturer, and PRL was the first step in that direction. From 1966 until 1971, Vikram Sarabhai was a member of the PRL. Between 1966 and 1971. Sarabhai’s interests were diverse, and he was important in establishing the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad in 1962, recognizing the need for professional management education in India. One of his most notable accomplishments was the founding of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). After the Russian Sputnik launch, Sarabhai was able to persuade the government of the significance of a space program for a developing country like India (a series of three artificial Earth satellites).

Major Contributions of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

In 1947, Vikram Sarabhai founded the Physical Research Laboratory which started with research on cosmic rays. In the same year, the Institute was officially established at the M.G. Science Institute, Ahmedabad.

Dr Vikram Sarabhai
Credits: ISRO

Sarabhai was responsible for setting up the Operations Research Group (ORG) i.e. the first market research organization in India. Other notable institutes set up by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai are

  • Nehru Foundation for Development, Ahmedabad
  • Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
  • Darpana Academy of Performing Arts
  • Electronics Corporation of India Limited, Hyderabad
  • Uranium Corporation of India Limited, Jharkhand 

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai started a project for the launch of the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata. The satellite was put in orbit in 1975 from a Russian cosmodrome. Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was the founder of the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO. 

Major Achievements, Innovations, and Inventions by Scientist Vikram Sarabhai

  • Sarabhai received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in England. Following WWII, he relocated to India.
  • At the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, he studied cosmic rays under physicist Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman.
  • He returned to Cambridge in 1945 to seek a doctorate, and in 1947 he completed his thesis, “Cosmic Ray Investigations in Tropical Latitudes.”
  • On his return to India, he established the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad.
  • In 1947, he founded the Ahmedabad Textile Industry Research Association.
  • Sarabhai is also the founder of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, which was founded in 1962.

Other Honorable Mentions about Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

  • In 1962, he became the President of the Physics section, of the Indian Science Congress.
  • In 1970, he became the President of the General Conference of the I.A.E.A., Vienna.
  • From 1966 to 1971, he served as the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India.
  • In 1971, he became the Vice-president of the Fourth UN Conference on ‘Peaceful uses of Atomic Energy.
  • In 1972, he founded the Space Application Centre,  an institution of research in Ahmedabad under the support of the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO. He served as the chairman of the same until 1971. 

Awards of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

  • Awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1966.
  • Posthumously awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1972.

Vikram Sarabhai’s legacy

For his contributions to the area of space research, Vikram Sarabhai is known as the “Father of the Indian Space Program.” He received the Padma Bhushan in 1966 and the Padma Vibhushan posthumously in 1972, two of India’s highest distinctions. Vikram Sarabhai’s legacy carries on through the Indian space program and the nuclear program, both of which are centered on indigenous development, as he envisioned.

Vikram was the name of India’s Chandrayaan-2 lander, as well as the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), ISRO’s rocket development site in Thiruvananthapuram. The Sarabhai crater on the moon, located in Mare Serenitatis or Sea of Serenity and visible from Earth on the near side, is named after him.

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai’s Death

At the age of 52, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai died due to cardiac arrest in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. He was supposed to review the SLV design before his departure for Bombay the same night as his death. 

Source: ISRO Life

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