Her agnomen is “Agni putri” and “Missile Woman”. She is the first woman to head a missile project in India and one of the few women working on Strategic nuclear ballistic missiles in the male-domineering world of clandestine missile development programme.
Agni-V has been triumphantly tested on April 19 2012. One of the key players in making this ICBM a reality is Scientist “Tessy Thomas” from DRDO. She has taken the mantle to guide the team of scientists to fire the robust and truculent weapon in the country’s arsenal.
She, Roman Catholic, was born in Alappuzha, Kerala to small-business man family and was named after “Mother Teresa”. From her school days, she was adept at solving problems in mathematics and was engrossed with Science; pre-eminently she was confounded at the rocket launches from Thumba on the purlieus of Thiruvananthapuram.
At the age of 20 she left to Pune for perusing M.Tech in Guided Missiles from “Defence Institute of Advanced Technology” (then Institute of Armament Technology). There she met Saroj Kumar, her husband, commodore in the Indian Navy. Her son, Tejas, named after LCV (Light Combat Vehicle), is studying in Vellore Engineering College.
Ms. Tessy Thomas has embarked on her journey with DRDO, when she was chosen as one of the 10 young talents from the country in 1985 for DRDO programme.
Her dedication, endeavour and patience brought her many accolades. She has worked under the genius, Missile man, former President Mr. APJ Abdul Kalam as her director, when she was faculty at DRDO, Pune for Guided Missiles. She was designated as associate project director for Agni-III, Project Director for Agni-IV and reached to the zenith for heading the Agni-V mission.
She has now set her eyes on multiple independent re-entry vehicles.