On a hot and humid day, Kalam along with his colleague in the PPL at Thumba, as part of the pre-launch schedule of the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV), were 'filling and remotely pressing the hazardous sodium and thermite mix' when the accident happened.
'After the sixth such operation, Sudhakar and I went into the payload room to check on our work. Suddenly, a drop of sweat from his forehead fell onto the sodium, and before we knew what was happening, there was a violent explosion, which shook the room', recalls Kalam in his autobiography Wings of Fire.
"For a few paralysed seconds, I did not know what to do. The fire was spreading and water would not extinguish the sodium fire," he says.
"Trapped in this inferno, Sudhakar, however, did not lose his presence of mind. He broke the glass window with his bare hands and literally threw me out to safety before jumping out himself," narrates the eminent scientist.
"I touched Sudhakar's bleeding hands in gratitude. He smiled through his pain. Sudhakar spent many weeks in the hospital recuperating from the severe burns," he says.
India's missile man: Abdul Kalam
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