Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was an Indian physicist and astronomer. He is known as the father of Indian space exploration and the architect of India’s space age. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919 in an affluent family in Ahmedabad. His father was a businessman. He was associated with many political figures, people like Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Mahatma Gandhi. They used to visit his house. Vikram Sarabhai’s mother Sarladevi started her own Montessori school for the education of her children. It was in this school that Vikram Sarabhai was educated by teachers from Europe. He was especially fond of mathematics and physics since his childhood.
After completing his 12th standard education, in 1937, he went to Cambridge University in Britain for further education. But with the outbreak of World War II, he returned to India and studied at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. He conducted research under the guidance of Nobel laureate Sir C.V. Raman on cosmic rays. In 1942, he married Mrinalini Sarabhai, a famous dancer who was skilled in Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi. They had two children Kartikeya and Mallika. After the end of World War II in 1945, Vikram Sarabhai went to Britain.
In 1947, he obtained his doctorate by researching on ‘Cosmic Ray Investigation in Tropical Latitudes’ and returned to his homeland in the same year. On his return to India, he established the Physics Research Workshop at Ahmedabad on November 11, 1947. This was his first step, Vikram Sarabhai went on to make significant achievements in space exploration. Vikram Sarabhai played an important role in establishing the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. ‘Aryabhata’, the first space satellite launched in 1975, was designed by Vikram Sarabhai at the Ahmedabad Research Centre. After the successful launch of ‘Aryabhata’, India launched several satellites into space. Sarabhai’s tireless hard work, vision and strong leadership are the keys behind this success.
Vikram Sarabhai started many institutions of world fame. Indian Institute of Management (IIM) is the best management education institute in India. He also started The National Physical Laboratory (PRL), famous for its research in physics. He founded the Ahmedabad Textile Industrial Research Association (ATIRA) to promote the textile industry in Ahmedabad. He also established the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), an organization working in the field of environment. Such a great space age architect died on 30th December 1971.