First time: A woman to head India's nuclear missile project

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New Delhi, May 13 (UNI) After ''Missile Man'' A P J Abdul Kalam, India will now, for the first time ever, have a woman heading a nuclear missile project.

Dr Tessy Thomas has become the first woman scientist in India to head the missile project - new Agni-II version.

The Government has announced the appointment of Dr Thomas, one of around 200 women scientists and technicians working for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), as the project director of the upgraded version of the 2,000-km intermediate range nuclear-capable ballistic missile, Agni-II.

The new nuclear-capable surface-to-surface missile would be referred to as the Agni-II A (2).

At present, the 45-year-old defence scientist was associate project director of the 3,000-km range Agni-III missile project, which was successfully tested earlier this month.

Now dubbed as India's ''Missile Woman,'' Dr Thomas, along with the entire Agni-III team, was presented with DRDO Award by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a function here yesterday.

She is an expert on all solid propellants systems, has a B Tech from Thrissur Engineering College, Calicut, and an M Tech from Pune.

Dr Thomas from Alleppey in Kerala started her career in the DRDO under Dr Kalam's leadership and guidance.

She has a son who is named after the country's light combat aircraft (LCA), Tejas.

There were 20 other women scientists working along with her in the Agni-III programme, and seven women scientists are working on top key posts in this programme.

UNI AG MSJ NS1852

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