The Missile Woman of India, Tessy Thomas, is the first female scientist to have handled sensitive missile projects in India. She has made extensive contributions to the design and development of many missiles in the country as well as abroad. Born in the southern Indian state of Kerala, she was a meritorious student. Who not only completed her school education demonstrating her genius in her certificates. But also pursued further studies and completed her graduation degree from St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam. Here’s a fun anecdote from her childhood:
she was nicknamed ‘Alice’ for her exceptional mathematical abilities demonstrated in her childhood!
Interesting, isn’t it?
As one would expect, bright and diligent girls from well-to-do Christian families in Kerala were likely to harbor aspirations of becoming physicians, teachers, or IAS officials in the 1970s and 1980s. But Tessy Thomas was different. Through her formative years, she had seen her mother excel both as a homemaker and a certified teacher. And that experience was her first brush with the realization of what a woman can do if she decided to do something. Tessy’s school was situated close to the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO). Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), and she could often witness, from the school ground, planes flying in and out of the Thiruvananthapuram airport as well as the launch of rockets.
It was only natural for a gifted mind such as hers to start pondering over rockets and the exciting work that went behind creating one. Gradually, as she grew up, her fascination with rockets solidified and she began to take it more seriously. So much so that she decided to join a missile program someday.
Dreams, at last, turned into reality. Years later, this schoolgirl got to a position where she could live her long-cherished dream of building rockets using her inventions to create the most advanced missiles for her country. Ever since her first day at work, Thomas has been working for almost 33 years in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Starting her career as a young sub-system designer in the agency’s Hyderabad lab and then moving ahead to become the mission director, developing and testing missiles. She worked actively to fulfill her dream of integrating the Agni I-V missile systems into defense systems on the country’s own. She was slowly emerging as a formidable name as well as a deserving candidate who could efficiently handle complex decisions, and her growth led her to the position of DRDO’s Director General of Aeronautical Systems.
Tessy Thomas is known as the Missile Woman of India
Tessy Thomas, the ‘Missle Woman of India,’ has extensively contributed to several missiles in terms of design and development. Let’s take a look at her achievements. Here we go.
- Born in Kerala, after finishing school level, Tessy completed her graduate from Sainik School, New Delhi (SSNLD), with physics honors before pursuing her master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, where she obtained a Ph.D. degree in Aeronautics & Astronautics.
- Today, Tessy is heading another prestigious missile program of India called ‘Mission Shakti,’ which aims to develop indigenously built missiles capable of carrying large payloads at low cost by 2022-23.
- Tessy the only woman scientist to lead a missile project in India.
- She was appointed as the director of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) on December 3, 2018.
- She completed her post-graduation from IIT Bombay and her MSc from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
- Her work at DRDO includes the development of missiles like Agni V, Prithvi III, etc., which are crucial for India’s defense strategy.
- Tessy Thomas, as a missile scientist and engineer, has made extensive contributions to the design and development of many missiles. Including the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile and DRDO’s indigenously developed Prithvi-I ballistic missile.
- Tessy Thomas was involved in designing and developing many missiles, such as Agni, INSAT 4B, etc.. Which have proved very effective against target hits across different ranges.
- Tessy Thomas worked with Boeing and Honeywell Aerospace, As a research engineer before joining Lockheed Martin Space Systems as a systems engineer.
- She helped to design several satellites that were successfully launched into space, including NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS). Which carried communications equipment between Earth-orbiting spacecraft such as the International Space Station (ISS) or Exploration Rover Opportunity on Mars.
Perhaps, Tessy Thomas’s biggest achievement is that she challenged and eventually broke down gender stereotypes. Especially those associated with the defense sector in India. Despite being happily married and being the mother of a lovely son, her dream and ambition get only bigger and she continues to excel.
Indeed, an exceptional prodigy, Tessy, not only contributed to furthering the ambitious projects and translating dreams into realities. But she also stands as a living example of what any woman can achieve if only, she listens to what she wants to do, follow through, and perseveres. She is the true example of how big a woman can dream and how far she can go to fulfill her dream. In a country like India, where patriarchy stills win even within the confines of our living rooms. Tessy Thomas and women such as herself leave indelible marks in our minds, forever encouraging us to forge ahead without paying heed to the machinations of society demanding women to conforms to pre-established rules.
Here goes more power to women such as Tessy Thomas. Here’s more power to the women in India.