Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai: Biography, Education, Quotes

Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai (12 August 1919 – 30 December 1971) was an Indian physicist and astronomer who initiated space research and helped develop nuclear power in India.

He was honoured with Padma Bhushan in 1966 and the Padma Vibhushan (posthumously) in 1972. He is internationally regarded as the Father of the Indian Space Program.

Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai


Key Description of Vikram Sarabhai:

Born: 12 August 1919, Ahmedabad, Bombay Presidency, British India

Died: 30 December 1971, Halcyon Castle Trivandrum, Thiruvananthapuram

Full name: Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai

Organizations founded: Indian Space Research Organisation,

Education: Gujarat Arts and Science College, Sheth C N Vidyalaya, St John's College, University of Cambridge

Awards: Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan

Alma Mater: University of Cambridge (BA, PhD)

Known For: Indian space program, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Spouse(s): Mrinalini Sarabhai


  • Mallika Sarabhai (daughter)
  • Kartikeya Sarabhai (son)


  • Padma Bhushan (1966)
  • Padma Vibhushan (posthumously) (1972)

Scientific Career

Doctoral Advisor: C. V. Raman

Doctoral Students: Udupi Ramachandra Rao, K Narayanan Nair
Vikram Sarabhai

Chairman: Indian National Committee for Space Research and Indian Space Research Organisation (1963–1971)

Preceded By: Position established

Succeeded By: M. G. K. Menon


Personal Life of Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai:

Son of Ambalal Sarabhai, he came from the famous Sarabhai family of India who were major industrialists committed to the Indian independence movement.

Vikram Sarabhai married the classical dancer Mrinalini in 1942. The couple had two children. His daughter Mallika gained prominence as an actress and activist, and his son Kartikeya too became an active person in science. During his lifetime, he practiced Jainism.

He attended Gujarat College, Ahmedabad, but later shifted to the University of Cambridge, England, where he took his tripos in natural sciences in 1940.

In 1945 he returned to Cambridge to pursue a doctorate and wrote a thesis, “Cosmic Ray Investigations in Tropical Latitudes,” in 1947.

Known as the cradle of space sciences in India, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) was founded in 1947 by Vikram Sarabhai. PRL had a modest beginning at his residence, the "RETREAT", with research on cosmic rays.

The institute was formally established at the M.G. Science Institute, Ahmedabad, on 11 November 1947 with support from the Karmkshetra Educational Foundation and the Ahmedabad Education Society.

Prof. Kalpathi Ramakrishna Ramanathan was the first Director of the institute. The initial focus was research on cosmic rays and the properties of the upper atmosphere. Research areas were expanded to include theoretical physics and radio physics later with grants from the Atomic Energy Commission.

He led the Sarabhai family-owned business conglomerate. His interests varied from science to sports to statistics. He set up the Operations Research Group (ORG), the first market research organization in the country.

Most notable among the many institutes he helped set up are the Nehru Foundation for Development in Ahmedabad, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), the Ahmedabad Textile Industry's Research Association (ATIRA) and the (CEPT).

Along with his wife Mrinalini Sarabhai, he founded the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts. Other projects and institutions initiated or established by him include the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) in Kalpakkam, Variable Energy Cyclotron Project in Calcutta, Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) in Hyderabad and Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) in Jaduguda, Jharkhand.

Sarabhai started a project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian satellite. As a result, the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, was put in orbit in 1975 from a Russian cosmodrome.

He was the founder of Indian Space Research Organisation.


Distinguished Positions of Vikram Sarabhai:

  • President of the Physics section, Indian Science Congress (1962)
  • President of the General Conference of the I.A.E.A., Vienna (1970)
  • Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India (1966–1971)
  • Vice-President, Fourth UN Conference on 'Peaceful uses of Atomic Energy' (1971)
  • Founder and Chairman (1963–1971), Space Applications Centre



The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, (VSSC), which is the Indian Space Research Organization's lead facility for launch vehicle development located in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), capital of Kerala state, is named in his memory.

Along with other Ahmedabad-based industrialists, he played a major role in setting up of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Indian Postal Department released a commemorative Postal Stamp On his first death anniversary (30 December 1972)

In 1973, the International Astronomical Union decided that a lunar crater, Bessel A, in the Sea of Serenity will be known as the Sarabhai crater.

The lander on India's moon mission Chandrayaan-2 which was to land near the South Pole of the moon on Sep 20, 2019 was named Vikram in his honour.

Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC) located in

Ahmedabad, Gujarat is named after him. Vikram Sarabhai established this institute around the 1960s.

Former World Quiz Champion Vikram Joshi was named after him.
On 12 August 2019, Google's Doodle for India commemorated Sarabhai's 100th birth anniversary.


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