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Vikram Sarabhai

Vikram Sarabhai

Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai, a towering figure in India’s space program, made significant contributions across various fields. Born into a distinguished family, with his father Ambalal Sarabhai being an industrialist and freedom fighter, and his wife, Mrinalini Sarabhai, a renowned dancer and founder of a respected dance institute, Sarabhai left a lasting legacy. Besides his crucial role in shaping India’s space exploration, he showed entrepreneurial flair by founding ATIRA. This article explores Sir Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai’s life and contributions, highlighting his profound impact on Indian science and technology.

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Early Life

Vikram Sarabhai, the son of Ambalal Sarabhai and Mridula Sarabhai, was born on August 12, 1919, in Ahmedabad, India. He received his early education at St. Xavier’s High School before pursuing further studies in England. With a stellar academic record, he excelled in his college years in Gujarat and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics with first-class honors from the University of Mumbai. Sarabhai began his scientific journey as an assistant research student under the guidance of Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman and later pursued his MSc at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he continued his work with Raman.

In 1946, Sarabhai joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) as an assistant, focusing on the study of cosmic rays and cosmic energy under the mentorship of A K Raychaudhuri for two years. He then transitioned to a professorship at TIFR and subsequently took over as the director of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL). Under his leadership, PRL flourished, earning recognition as one of the world’s premier scientific laboratories. Many significant discoveries were made under Sarabhai’s guidance, with notable contributions from scientists like Homi J Bhabha, who played a pivotal role in India’s pursuit of self-reliance in nuclear power. Vikram Sarabhai’s enduring legacy lies in his pioneering contributions to space research, securing his place in history as India’s foremost scientist in the field.


Vikram Sarabhai, an eminent Indian physicist, was a driving force behind the nation’s space endeavors. He founded the Vikram Sarabhai Space Research Centre and chaired ISRO, while also spearheading the establishment of key scientific institutions such as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL). Prior to his leadership in the space domain, Sarabhai contributed significantly to nuclear research, notably leading the development of reactors and power plants at the Atomic Energy Establishment Trombay (AEET), later known as BARC.

His illustrious career began at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research before transitioning to PRL, where he served as director. Under his guidance, India witnessed the birth of the Space Application Centre, dedicated to advancing indigenous space technologies. Through his multifaceted contributions to astrophysics, cosmic rays, and astronomy, Sarabhai left an indelible mark on Indian science, inspiring countless others to pursue excellence and elevate their nation on the global scientific stage.

Contribution to Textile Industry

Vikram Sarabhai, a pioneering figure in the Indian space program, also distinguished himself as a renowned scientist by establishing several notable institutions. Among these, he founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad Textile Industry Research Association (ATIRA), and Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCC). In 1947, along with colleagues K. M. Munshi and Gautam Sarabhai, he established the Ahmedabad Textile and Industry Research Association, which later evolved into the Institute of Textile Technology & Training Centre (ITTC).


Vikram Sarabhai, an eminent Indian physicist and astronomer, left an indelible mark on the country’s space exploration endeavors. His tenure at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), under the mentorship of Homi Bhabha, shaped his trajectory towards pioneering achievements. Central to his legacy was the establishment of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), a cornerstone in global space exploration. Sarabhai’s visionary leadership also catalyzed the development of the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in Trivandrum, Kerala. Through his relentless dedication, Sarabhai laid the groundwork for India’s remarkable journey into space.

Read also: Chandrayaan-3 vs Chandrayaan-2: A Comparison of India’s Moon Missions

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