December 11, 2023 06:12:05

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DR. APJ ABDUL KALAM: Why was APJ Abdul Kalam known as the Missile Man?

Born on October 15, 1931, and raised in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, Dr. Kalam studied aerospace engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology after which he joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). His outstanding work earned him the title of the ‘Missle Man of India’.

Find out about his scientific career and why was APJ Kalam called the ‘Missile Man of India’.


During his school years, he was deeply interested in mathematics. He graduated in Physics from Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli, after which he studied aerospace engineering at Madras Institute of Technology where he was threatened that his scholarship would be canceled.

Dr. Kalam had dreamt of becoming a fighter pilot but he ranked 9th in the qualifiers whereas only 8 positions were available in the IAF.

His years at the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation)

His time at DRDO was utilized in focusing on research in the defense and space arena as a scientist. In the beginning, he designed a small hovercraft and started working on an expandable rocket project independently. In 1969 he was shifted to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he was the project head of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). It was during this time he got the government’s approval to expand the program.

The Missile developer

Within 20 years, Dr. Kalam was successful to develop the Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects. In the 1970s he also directed two projects which developed ballistic missiles from the technology of the SLV program, for this he was given secret funds from then PM Indira Gandhi through her discretionary powers as the Union Cabinet was against these projects.

Kalam was appointed as the Chief Executive by then Defence Minister R. Venkataraman of a project which worked on the development of a quiver of missiles. A fund of 388 crores was allocated for this mission named Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). He developed many missiles under this mission including Agni and Prithvi.

Role in Pokhran-II

ABJ Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and he served as the Chief Project Coordinator of the Pokhran-II nuclear tests. The massive media coverage this project got made Kalam a well-known nuclear scientist.

APJ Abdul Kalam received Bharat Ratna and played a major role in the testing of nuclear weapons in 1998 during the Vajpayee government.