In 1970, after joining the Indian Air Force as a test pilot, his passion for flying opened up several opportunities such as being a part of war operations against

Pakistan. He flew various Mikoyan-Gurevich aircrafts starting from 1971. Rakesh swiftly progressed through many levels and in 1984 he was appointed as the Squadron Leader and pilot of the Indian Air Force. After some years, he was asked to go on an extraordinary mission as a combined space program between Indian Space Research Organisation and the Soviet Intercosmos. He spent eight days journeying around the Earth's orbit in a space station called Salyut 7. The flight Soyuz T-11 also carried two other astronauts from Soviet Union. On 3rd April 1984 when the space flight took off, Rakesh had made history by being the first Indian to travel in space. His responsibilities included capturing multi-spectral images of the Northern part of India with a view to construct a hydroelectric power station close to the Himalayas. In an interview to the press, he described this experience as the best feeling ever. Rakesh also said that the space venture involved rigorous training (zero gravity exercises) for him and Rakesh Malhotra, his colleague. A few years later he retired from the Indian Army as a Wing Commander to become a part of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as a test pilot. He was posted in the Nashik Division. He then shifted to National Flight Test Center (NFTC) in Bangalore and began to work on Light Combat Aircraft program, along with a few others. In 2006, Sharma took part in a conference involving a gathering of the best scientists of ISRO, who were responsible for one of India's space missions. Currently, he has retired from his services and is now the chairperson for the Automated Workflow.

•    Joining the Indian Air Force as a test pilot, he rolled open several opportunities such as being a part of war operations against Pakistan
•    As a part of a joint programme between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Soviet Intercosmos space programme, Sharma was selected on September 20, 1982 to become a cosmonaut and go into space
•    When he flew aboard the Soyuz T-11, on April 2 in 1984, he became the first citizen of India to go into space
•    He spent seven days 21 hours and 40 minutes in space
•    His work was in the arenas of bio-medicine and remote sensing
•    While in space, the whole crew had a television news conference with officials in Moscow and the then Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi
•    Saare Jahan Se Achcha were the words Sharma recited when he was asked how India looks from outer space by Indira Gandhi
•    He became the 128th person to travel to space and India became the 14th nation to send a man to outer space
•    A few years later, he became a part of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as a test pilot
•    He was conferred with the Hero of Soviet Union upon his homecoming
•    Sharma was also conferred with the Ashoka Chakra.