Bengaluru: India on Monday successfully launched its maiden ‘swadeshi’ space shuttle with the winged Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV-TD) fulfilling its mission objectives in the first crucial test to make space travel easier and cheaper in the future.
With the test-firing of the indigenous unmanned model space shuttle — the size of a Sports Utility Vehicle — by the ISRO from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh, about 350 km from here, India has joined the race to develop reusable spacecraft to put satellites into orbit after US’ Nasa stopped its Space Shuttle programme in 2011. Lifting off from the launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, the double delta-winged flight vehicle RLV Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) was hoisted into the atmosphere on the special rocket booster for a peak altitude of over 65 km and released for its re-entry into the atmosphere before its splashdown in the Bay of Bengal.
The total flight duration of the 6.5-metre long ‘aeroplane’-like structure from launch to landing lasted about 770 seconds, the ISRO said. After successfully surviving high temperatures of re-entry with the help of its Thermal Protection System (TPS), RLV-TD successfully glided down to the defined landing spot over Bay of Bengal, at a distance of about 450 km from Sriharikota, fulfilling its mission objectives, it said.
The RLV-TD is described as “a very preliminary step” in the development of a reusable rocket, whose final version is expected to take 10-15 years. In this flight, critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance and control, reusable thermal protection system and re-entry mission management have been successfully validated, ISRO said in a statement.
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