The first Indian to be in outer space, Rakesh Sharma started his career at the National Defense Academy as an air-force trainee and later became a test pilot in the Indian Air Force. Sharma flew with the Air Force on various missions including the 1971 war with Pakistan. He raised through several ranks in the Indian Air Force until he became a squadron leader. Sharma was selected to be part of a joint space program between the Indian Space Research Organization and the Soviet Inter-Cosmos Space Program. He underwent 18 months of intensive training with Russian team and on April 3 1984 , he was launched from the Soyuz T-11 Rocket along with two other cosmonauts. The team spent 7 days 21 hours and 40 minutes in space abroad the Soyuz T-11 Rocket and the Salyut 7 Orbital Station. Sharma retired as Wing Commander from the IAF and worked as the Chief Test Pilot with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. He retired from test flying in 2001. He was conferred with the honour of Hero of Soviet Union upon his return from space. The Government of India conferred its highest gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra on him and the other two Soviet members of his mission.