His great contribution was acknowledged, when the government awarded him the highest commendation of the country, ‘The Bharat Ratna’.
As he was born in a middle class family at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu on October 15, 1931, Dr.
Kalam was invited by Raja Ramanna to witness the country's first nuclear test Smiling Buddha as the representative of TBRL, even though he had not participated in its development.
In the 1970s, Kalam also directed two projects, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV programme.
In 1969, Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he was the project director of India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980; Kalam had first started work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965.
Between the 1970s and 1990s, Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects, both of which proved to be successful.
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He is the a eleventh President of India and his rise to his present, coveted post proves the successful functioning of our great democracy. Prior to his becoming the President, Dr Kalam had held different posts in DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organisation) and in ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation).
As a result, the family acquired the title of "Mara Kalam Iyakkivar" (wooden boat steerers), which over the years became shortened to "Marakier." With the opening of the Pamban Bridge to the mainland in 1914, however, the businesses failed and the family fortune and properties were lost over time, apart from the ancestral home.
After completing his education at the Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram, Kalam went on to attend Saint Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli, then affiliated with the University of Madras, from where he graduated in physics in 1954.