Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island, is an island in Bhadrak, Odisha, approximately 150 kilometres north-east of the state capital Bhubaneshwar.
The Integrated Test Range missile testing facility is located on the island. The island was originally named after English commandant Lieutenant Wheeler. On 4 September 2015, the island was renamed to honour the late Indian president, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
It is India’s most advanced missile testing site in the Bay of Bengal. The missiles which were launched from the Wheeler Island include Akash, Agni, Astra, BrahMos, Nirbhay, Prahaar, Prithvi, Shaurya and Advanced Air Defence, and Prithvi Air Defence.
Remembering Kalam’s association with Odisha and the Island, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen said Kalam was working at Defence Research and Development Organization, Balasore for pretty long. “It was Biju Babu (Biju Patnaik), who allotted the historic Wheeler Island to the ministry of defence on the request of Dr Kalam in 1993,” Naveen added.
It was there that Kalam tested scores of missiles. The quiet sea washed sylvan surroundings also gave him inspiration to write many poems for his book “My Journey”.
As the man pioneering missile development in India, he himself described the Wheeler Island as his ‘theatre of action’. The first successful land-to-land test of the Prithvi Missile was conducted from the mainland and it landed on the then uninhabited ‘Wheeler Island’ on November 30, 1993.