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Former Indian President and renowned space scientist APJ Abdul Kalam passes away

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NEW DELHI: Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, one of the country’s foremost aerospace scientists, passed away in Shillong this evening. He was 83 years old.
 
Kalam was rushed to the hospital earlier in the day when he collapsed while giving a public lecture at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Shillong. His condition was said to be critical and was kept under observation in the ICU.
 
It is reported that he suffered a cardiac arrest during the lecture and was admitted at the Bethany Hospital.
 
Kalam was born on 15 October, 1931 and served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. He received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna. After serving a term of five years as President, he returned to civilian life of education, writing, and public service.
 
Born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, he studied physics and aerospace engineering in 1960.
 
Kalam spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was intimately involved in the India's civilian space programme and military missile development efforts. He thus came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He also played a pivotal organizational, technical and political role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.
 
Kalam started his career by designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army, but remained  unconvinced with the choice of his job at DRDO. Kalam was also part of the INCOSPAR committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, the renowned space scientist. In 1969, Kalam was transferred to ISRO where he was the project director of India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III), which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near earth's orbit in July 1980. 
 
Kalam first started work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965. In 1969, he received the government's approval and expanded the programme to include more engineers.
 
During the period between the 1970s and 1990s, Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar Satellite Launching Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects, both of which proved to be success.
 
In the 1970s, a landmark was achieved by ISRO when the locally built Rohini-1 was launched into space, using the SLV rocket. In the 1970s, Kalam also directed two projects, namely, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV programme.
 
Kalam’s research and educational leadership brought him great laurels and prestige in the 1980s, which prompted the government to initiate an advanced missile programme under his directorship. Kalam and Dr V S Arunachalam, metallurgist and scientific adviser to the Defence Minister, worked on the suggestion by the then Defence Minister, R Venkataraman on a proposal for simultaneous development of a quiver of missiles instead of taking planned missiles one after another. Venkataraman was instrumental in getting the cabinet approval for allocating Rs 388 crores for the mission, named Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) and appointed Kalam as the chief executive. 
 
Kalam played a major part in developing many missiles under the mission including Agni, an intermediate range ballistic missile and Prithvi, the tactical surface-to-surface missile, although the projects have been criticised for mismanagement and cost and time overruns.
 
Kalam was the chief scientific adviser to the Prime Minister, and the Secretary of DRDO from July 1992 to December 1999. 
 
In 1998, along with cardiologist Soma Raju, Kalam developed a low cost coronary stent, named the "Kalam-Raju Stent". In 2012, the duo, designed a rugged tablet computer for health care in rural areas, which was named the "Kalam-Raju Tablet".

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