On Tuesday evening, ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM)'' received a precious and historical document while attending a wonderful Russian folk dance show at the Russian Centre For Science and Culture
A centre official, my good friend, Rajeev, thoughtfully gave me two copies of the document. Of these, BMM plans to laminate one and prominently display it in its room once the renovation work is over which seems never-ending.
It is a message from none other than India's first spaceman, Wing Commander (retd) Rakesh Sharma to the consul general of the Russian Federation in Mumbai, Alexi A.Novikov, to mark the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight.
Sharma's message says: ``Your Excellency. The world was wonder struck on this very day 50 years ago, when Yuri Gagarin returned back to Earth after a successful orbital space flight. I was a student attending school at that time and this event fired the imagination of my generation. Little did I know that 23 years later, I would be following him into space along with my Russian colleagues. In that sense, Yuri's words were prophetic for he had hoped as much when he spoke during his visit to India after his historic space flight.''
``We marvel at all that has been achieved by space in these 50 years. This is a time to reflect and salute Yuri Gagarin, the space scientists and technicians that made his flight possible. It is a tribute to the indomitable exploratory spirit of Man and the heroism displayed by Yuri, who braved this unknown frontier just because he believed in the capabilities of all those who had worked to make his flight possible,'' the message states.
``On that historic day, the 12th of April, 1961, Yuri Gagarin and his team showed the world that it was possible to launch a human into space and return him safely back to earth,'' the historic message concludes.
It is signed: ``Rakesh Sharma Research Cosmonaut India Soyuz-T-11/Salyut-7/Soyuz-T-10. 03April to 11 April 1984.
BMM first saw this message when it was displayed along with other pictures of Yuri Gagarin and space-related events during the Russian national day party at the Taj on Monday night. BMM immediately approached the ever helpful Rajeev and requested him for a photo copy of the message.
Rajeev immediately agreed and on Tuesday evening provided two copies.
Thank you Rajeev.