India successfully launches its own ‘space shuttle’

PTI Bengaluru | Updated on January 20, 2018

SRIHARIKOTA/ANDHRA PRADESH/23/05/2016: ISRO successfully launched its space shuttle prototype RLV-TD or the Reusable Launch Vehicle from its rocket port Sriharikota on Monday, Photo: V. Ganesan. -

Taking a step in the development of a reusable rocket which will drastically cut down the cost of access to space, India today successfully flight-tested an indigenous winged Reusable Launch Vehicle, dubbed “swadeshi” space shuttle, from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.

Lifting off from the launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, 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.

From a 65 km altitude, RLV-TD began its descent followed by atmospheric re-entry at around Mach 5 — five times the speed of sound — with the vehicle’s navigation, guidance and control system accurately steering it during this phase for safe descent, Indian Space Research Organisation said.

After successfully surviving the 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 the Bay of Bengal, at a distance of about 450 km from Sriharikota, fulfilling its mission objectives, ISRO said.

The aerospace vehicle with the weight (1.75 tonnes) and size of a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), was not recovered as it disintegrated on impact with water since it is not designed to float.

The vehicle was successfully tracked during its flight from ground stations at Sriharikota and a ship-borne terminal.

The total flight duration from launch to landing lasted about 770 seconds, it said.

The government has invested Rs 95 crore in the RLV-TD project.

The RLV is ultimately aimed at putting satellites into orbit around earth and then to re-enter atmosphere with the ultimate goal of drastically slashing the cost of launches by as much as 10 times.

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.

The reduced-scale space plane resembling a US space shuttle was experimented on a model almost six times smaller than the final version.

Published on May 23, 2016

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