Kalam was born and raised in Rameswarama, Tamil Nadu and studied physics and aerospace engineering. He 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 program 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.
In 2002, Kalam was elected the President of India in 2002 with the support of the both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Indian National Congress. After serving a term of 5 years, he returned to civilian life of education, writing, and public service. He has received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor.