And the most important story – of his contribution to India’s space and defence programs:
Dr. Kalam was one of the few scientists who started working with ISRO during the agency’s early years. A Church became the place of work for the handful of India’s rocket scientists – including Dr. Kalam; and a nearby beach became the place where the rocket launchpad was set up.
Cycles and bullock-carts were used back in the 1970s & 1980s to transport rocket parts and entire satellites, and Dr. Kalam was one of the rare few scientists who made significant contributions to India’s early space program. In fact, Dr. Kalam was the Director of the project that indigenously developed the SLV-III (Space Launch Vehicle) and also the PSLV – which is operational even today and was used in the Moon and the Mars missions. In 1980, SLV-III successfully injected the Rohini satellite into a near-Earth orbit and made India an exclusive member of the Space Club.
After working with ISRO, Dr. Kalam took up responsibilities for developing Indigenous Guided Missiles at the DRDO which led to the development of AGNI and PRITHVI missiles. He also led the Pokhran-II nuclear tests that made India a nuclear weapon state.
It is said that during Indira Gandhi’s regime, Dr. Kalam was the man who convinced the Prime Minister for an advanced missile program for the country – and despite the disapproval of the Union Cabinet, PM Gandhi had secretly funded Kalam’s aerospace and defence projects. And the rest, as they say, is history.