IANS Interview: Set to fly to space, Captain Gopichand Thotakura wants Indian youth to dream big

National |  IANS  | Published :

New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) Calling his journey from Vijayawada to become a space tourist an effort worth “little 2 cents”, Indian national Captain Gopichand Thotakura on Monday said his story will inspire the next generation in the country to dream big and fulfil their aspirations.

He is set to become the first Indian to travel to the edge of space as a tourist onboard Blue Origin’s next flight. He will be a part of the six-person crew flying on US company Blue Origin's NS-25 mission. The mission date is yet to be announced.

Speaking to IANS, Captain Gopichand said his dream of going to space and becoming an astronaut is finally going to happen.

“The dream is finally coming to life, to be able to carry the spirit of over a billion people and go up there, almost 40 years since Rakesh Sharma went to space with the Russians in 1984,” he said.

“It is an absolute honour on behalf of the country, and my family and everybody else,” he added.

After Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, only people of Indian origin who have been in space are -- Kalpana Chawla (1997), Sunita Williams (2006), and Raja Chari (2021) as NASA astronauts.

Born and raised in India, Captain Gopichand made his way to the US for aeronautical engineering about 15 years ago. He completed his studies at Embry Riddle in Daytona Beach, Florida.

He later came back to India and worked as a commercial pilot for medical operations in Tier-II and III cities with jet transport aircraft. And in 2016-17, he moved back to international medical rescue operations. However, he always dreamed of going to space.

“I believe every Indian, growing up at some point, wants to be a pilot and has the lofty goal to sit there in the cockpit one day.

“As for me, it was a little more than that. It was always space. It was always to be an astronaut”.

Now, “I will be carrying our Indian flag to space, and show to the other fellow astronauts that our blood is also now a part of the league.”

He called out the young generation to dream big and chart their way to scale heights in life, especially in the space sector. He lamented that while every kid would want to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, no one aspires to become an astronaut.

“And that's where my little two cents was put in to inspire the next gen to dream big,” he said on his “journey from Vijayawada to space”.

“It's not about following somebody else's dreams. Think outside the box, and don't let anyone stop you from thinking,” Captain Gopichand told IANS.

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