Dr. Vikram Sarabhai is well-known space scientist of India. If it is said that he was the first one who made India’s name notable in the field of space research, will not be wrong in any manner. He was a creative scientist. He could dream and change his dreams into reality. What is more, Dr. Sarabhai taught many others how to dream and to work towards realising the dream. It is not a common quality. In other word, he was one in millions.
Besides, he was a great economist, industrialist and educationalist also. Throughout his life, he remained engaged in research programme. It is an example of his life-long hard work more than 15 students completed their Ph D under his supervision. Dr.Sarabhai independently and in association with his colleagues published about 80 research papers in national journals.
He was born on August 12, 1919 in a prosperous family of Ahmedabad. His father was Mr. Ambalal Sarabhai and mother was Mrs. Saraladevi Sarabhai. After completing his Intermediate from Gujarat College, he went to Cambridge in 1937 where he obtained his Tripos in Natural Sciences in 1940.
At the outbreak of the Second World War he returned to India and joined the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore where he took- up research in cosmic- rays under the supervision of great scientist C.V. Raman. He published his first research paper entitled "Time Distribution of Cosmic Rays" in the proceedings of Indian Academy of Sciences. After the war he returned to Cambridge to work for his PhD in cosmic ray, Physics. In 1947, he was awarded PhD by the Cambridge University for his thesis `Cosmic Ray investigation in Tropical Latitudes'. He also carried out an accurate measurement of the cross-section for the photo fission of U-238 by 6.2 MeV gamma rays.
He helped to establish a number of institutions. Ahmedabad Textile Industry's Research Association (ATIRA) was the first institution that Sarabhai helped to build. Some of the most well-known institutions established by Dr.Sarabhai are: Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad; Indian Institute of Management(IIM), Ahmedabad, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), Kalpakkam; and Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Jaduguda, Bihar.
After the death of Dr. Homi J Bhabha in January 1966, Dr. Sarabhai was asked to assume the responsibilities of the office of the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission. He played a pioneering role in the development of satellite TV broadcasting in India. Dr. Sarabhai was also a pioneer of the pharmaceutical industry in India. Dr. Sarabhai was a man of deep cultural interests. He was interested in music, photography, archaeology, fine arts and so on. With his wife Mrinalini, he established Darpana, an institution devoted to the performing arts. His daughter, Mallika Sarabhai, grew up to be a leading exponent of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi.
Sarabhai was deeply concerned with the state of science education in the country. To improve the same he had established the Community Science Centre. Dr. Sarabhai died on December 30, 1971 at Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. In a befitting honour to this great Scientist, Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) and associated space establishments at Thiruvananthapuram were renamed as the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.