India’s first reusable space shuttle RLV-TD launched

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully test launched the first indigenous Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD).

Launch Details: It was launched from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The launch was part of a series of technology demonstration missions, which is considered as a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle.

After launch RLV-TD glided back onto a virtual runway in Bay of Bengal and re-entered the atmosphere after reaching a height of over 70 km.

Key facts

  • RLV-TD is winged body aerospace vehicle that operated in hypersonic flight regime. It is capable of launching satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter the atmosphere
  • It has been configured to act as a flying testbed to evaluate various technologies, including hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight.
  • It was launched using a nine-ton solid rocket motor (SRM) which is designed to burn slowly to accommodate the vertical lifting of winged body
  • The RLV-TD was 6.5 meter long and has aeroplane like structure. It weighs about 1.75 tonnes and is very similar to the retired US space shuttle.
  • It was built by a team of 600 scientists over five years at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram.

Comment

RLV is being dubbed as India’s own space shuttle and considered as the unanimous solution to achieve low cost, reliable and on-demand space access. ISRO’s RLV will be competing with two US based private companies namely SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Blue Origin’s New Shephard rocket, which have already partially tested re-usable space shuttles.

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