Tessy Thomas

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Tessy Thomas
Tessy thomas.png
Director General (Aeronautical Systems), DRDO
Assumed office
1 June 2018 (2018-06-01)
Personal details
Born1963 (1963) (age 60)
Alappuzha, Kerala, India
SpouseSaroj Kumar
Alma mater
OccupationScientist at DRDO

Tessy Thomas (born April 1963) is an Indian scientist and Director General of Aeronautical Systems and the former Project Director for Agni-IV missile in Defence Research and Development Organisation.[1] She is the first ever woman scientist to head a missile project in India.

Early life[edit]

Tessy Thomas was born in April 1963 in Alappuzha, Kerala,[2][3] She was named after Mother Teresa (Tessy being a derivative of Teresa or Tressia).[4] There is conflicting information on whether her father was an IFS officer or a small-time businessman or an accountant.[5][6][3] When Thomas was 13, her father suffered from a stroke which left his right side paralyzed. Her mother who was a teacher, remained a homemaker to look after the family in such dire condition.[4][7]

She grew up near Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station and says her fascination with rockets and missiles began then. She was stimulated even by the wonderment of aircraft flying.[8][4]

Thomas has four other sisters and one brother. She has mentioned in interviews about her parents ensuring their children received proper education and encouraging the six siblings to pursue careers of their own interest so that they can excel. Two of her siblings are engineers while another pursued an MBA.[4][9]

Thomas credited her hometown and mother for her personal development. “I grew up with the pretty backwaters of Kerala as my backyard. I guess nature gives you strength and good thoughts. The power of nature cannot be undermined in one’s development.” Of her mother she has said, “It must have been tough for my mother — who was not allowed to work — to look after us on her own. Yet she made sure each of her five daughters and one son had a good education.... I’ve inherited her strong will for sure. I am equally persevering and determined like my mother.”[4][3]


Tessy Thomas studied in St. Michael's Higher Secondary School and St. Joseph's Girl's Higher Secondary School in Alappuzha. She had a natural flair for mathematics and physics. She scored one hundred percent in mathematics during her 11th and 12th years in school. In the same years she had also scored more than ninety five percent in science.[4][3][7]

She took an education loan of 100 per month from State Bank of India to study engineering from Government Engineering College, Thrissur. She also received a scholarship that covered her tuition fees having been entered into the first ten students of the merit list during her admissions. The loan gave her the courage to live in a hostel while pursuing her B.Tech.[4][10]

In both school and college Tessy was involved in extracurricular activities including political issues. She excelled in sports especially badminton bringing much recognition to her alma maters.[11]

She also has an M.Tech in Guided Missile from the Institute of Armament Technology, Pune (now known as the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology).[10] She also pursued MBA in Operations Management and Ph.D. in guidance missile under the Defence Research and Development Organisation.[3]


Thomas joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation in 1988,[12] where she worked on the design and developments of the new generation ballistic missile, Agni. She was appointed by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam for the Agni Project.[3] In addition, Thomas was the associate project director of the 3,000 km range Agni-III missile project.[13] She was the project director for mission Agni IV which was successfully tested in 2011.[14] Later, Thomas was appointed as the project director of the 5,000 km range Agni-V in 2009, which was successfully tested on 19 April 2012. In 2018, she became the Director-General, Aeronautical Systems of DRDO.[1]

She is a fellow at the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), Institution of Engineers-India (IEI) and Tata Administrative Service (TAS).[3]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Saroj Kumar, a commander in the Indian Navy and they have a son, Tejas.[15]


Tessy Thomas received the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for her contribution for making India self-reliant in the field of missile technology.[16][17]

She was also the recipient of the Dr Thomas Cangan Leadership Award at the Faculty of Management Studies – Institute of Rural Management, Jaipur (FMS-IRM) in 2018.[18]


  • Thomas, Tessy (1 July 2005). "Guidance Scheme for Solid Propelled Vehicle during Atmospheric Phase". Defence Science Journal. 55 (3): 253–264. doi:10.14429/dsj.55.1987.
  • Sudhakar, R.; Venkanna, M.; Rao, B. V. Papa; Thomas, Tessy (2017). "Prediction of Real Gas and Non-Equilibrium Effects in the Gas Dynamics of Canister Launch Missile". 30th International Symposium on Ballistics. doi:10.12783/ballistics2017/16878. ISBN 978-1-60595-419-6.
  • Thomas, Tessy; Jahagirdar, D R; Krishna, I V Murali; Varaprasad, L. (May 2013). "Online Trajectory Reshaping for a Launch Vehicle to Minimize the Final Error Caused by Navigation and Guidance". Defence Science Journal. New Delhi. 63 (3). ProQuest 1413260295.
  • Ghogale, Shrikant; Venkanna, M.; Rao, B.V. Papa; Thomas, Tessy (2017). "Developmental Challenges during Realization of High Progressivity Rocket Motor". 30th International Symposium on Ballistics. doi:10.12783/ballistics2017/16860. ISBN 978-1-60595-419-6.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b M Somasekhar (29 May 2018). "Tessy Thomas elevated as D-G Aero of DRDO". The Hindu Business Line.
  2. ^ Profile of Dr.Tessy Thomas
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "We watched breathlessly, praying for inner strength as the missile took off". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 22 May 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g DD News (9 October 2016), Tejasvini: Interaction with Tessy Thomas, The Missile Women of India, retrieved 20 January 2018
  5. ^ Aji, Sowmya (28 April 2012). "India's Missile Woman: Tessy Thomas". India Today. No. 7 May 2012.
  6. ^ Bagla, Pallava (20 April 2012). "The 'missile woman' behind India's new ICBM". BBC News.
  7. ^ a b Atul Vidyalaya (4 January 2016), Atul Vidyalaya - Speech - Agni Putri - Dr.Tessy Thomas, Missile Woman of India - 2015, retrieved 20 January 2018
  8. ^ Bagla, Pallav (20 April 2012). "The 'missile woman' behind India's new ICBM". BBC News. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  9. ^ INDIA SCIENCE NEWS ISN (9 February 2013), Tessy Thomas.mp4, retrieved 20 January 2018
  10. ^ a b "Tessy Thomas – The First Indian Woman Scientist to Head a Missile Project in India". Be An Inspirer. 22 December 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Dr. Tessy Thomas". Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  12. ^ "In Love With Rocket Science: The Story of Tessy Thomas, India's Missile Woman". The Better India. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  13. ^ Smt. Tessy Thomas is first woman scientist to head missile project Archived 22 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ 'Agni Putri' Tessy Thomas breaks glass ceiling
  15. ^ "Meet India's "Missile Woman"" (PDF). IWSA Newsletter. 34 (3). September 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  16. ^ "Scientist honoured for work on Agni missile tech". Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  17. ^ "'Missile woman' Tessy Thomas conferred Shastri award". 2 October 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  18. ^ "6th Thought Leadership Lecture Series at FMS-IRM". The Faculty of Management Studies, Institute of Rural Management. Retrieved 24 February 2020.

External links[edit]